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A young man was walking along the seashore. Far ahead of him, he saw a distant figure: someone who, like him, was walking, but who paused every few steps, stooped down, and seemed to be throwing something into the sea.

His curiosity aroused, the young man hurried forward, his feet awkward in the sand, as he tried to catch up with the man. As he came closer, he saw that it was an old man, and the reason that he would stop every step or two was to pick up a starfish and fling it into the ocean. It was only then that the young man noticed the thousands of starfish that littered the beach for miles, stranded there by the tide.

Suddenly, the young man felt within himself a rising sense of frustration. What the old man was doing seemed so pointless, and he couldn't wait to catch up with him to tell him so. By the time the young man came abreast of the older man, he was almost out of breath.

"Hey, Mister, why are you doing this?" he gasped. "You can't possibly save all of these starfish! Look around you, it's useless! Besides, what does it matter?"

The old man paused for a moment, looking down at the crusty starfish he'd just picked up. He turned it over slowly, looked back with deep, piercing eyes at the inquiring young man, and then answered.

"It matters to this one," he said, holding it up for the man to see. Then, with a slow and deliberate motion, he tossed it back into the sea ----- and into a reclaimed life.

(Author unknown)