Saturday, February 27, 2010

Caterpillars, Starfish, and Big Wheel Bicycles

Today while out jogging along the Alameda Beach bike path, I saw some interesting sights. The storm we experienced earlier that morning had parted, and the sky, now filled with ominous clouds of varying shades of gray, white and black, was looming with personality. I jogged steadily along the path, peacefully floating in my own world while listening to upbeat electronica on my Ipod. But suddenly right in front of me something small and fuzzy caught me eye down on the pavement. I stopped and bent down as I caught my breath, and noticed it was a furry red and black caterpillar about the size of a large macaroni noodle. I picked it up in my fingers as its body arched up in response to my touch, and I admired the fuzzy, soft, innocent nature of its body. Realizing that it would inevitably face an untimely, traumatic death by bike or foot if I left it there on the path, I decided to gently toss it back into the grass just off to the side of the path. I smiled to myself feeling proud of my heroic duty, and continued on my jog.

Not more than 5 minutes later another interesting sight appeared on the path - but instead of something minuscule below my feet, this sight was quite large, very prominent, and quickly approaching me from the opposite direction. At first I thought it was a unicycle, but it actually turned out to be a large, red big wheel bicycle - what a sight! The rider smiled down at me as I admired his unique riding apparatus. Again I continued on my jog, quite intrigued by this man and his bike. If you're curious, it looked something like this:

Later this afternoon as I reflected on my jog, my caterpillar experience reminded me of a popular fable called "The Star Fish Story". It has a powerful message....enjoy.

The Starfish Story
adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

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