For many years now I’ve adopted the starfish as my personal emblem. My friends know this, and over the years Ive been gifted with some spectacular starfish things like this silver necklace from my great friend, Kelly in Canada:
and recently Rachel, a very good friend and wonderful potter in Bristol made me this:
It all started about 13 years ago when I heard this story:
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,
“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
-Adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley-
As a life coach, the significance of making a difference one ‘starfish’ at a time was not lost on me. But latterly the starfish has come to mean more. As you know I’m passionate about what it takes to live an ecstatic, fully expressed life. Look at this image:
Same pose as a starfish. OK, well, nearly! (That was my intention anyway).
There is also the analogy of roots and wings – i.e. that it’s the job of us parents – to give our children stability and freedom. For me this pose represents both roots and wings: strong legs akimbo (grounded) arms aloft, ecstatic and welcoming of spirit, joy, abundance.
Finally there is the sister image of a tree which reaches up to the skies but is, at the same time, grounded deeply in its roots.
Last November I gave a talk at Hawkwood College that I’m hoping to repeat at this year’s Quest Festival in Devon called ‘Loving What Is whilst Reaching For More‘. I realised today that, here again, is the image of my upright starfish – grounded in the now whilst reaching for the skies.
In some ways it sounds like a paradox but look at nature and it’s everywhere. We are meant to savour our Now whilst relishing the delicious anticipation of life’s rich experiences yet to come.