It Matters.

I'll be honest with you, after a quiet couple of work weeks due to schools being closed over the holidays, it was rough to return to a regular (and by regular I mean beyond normal human ability) work load this week.  Monday alone I dealt with 5 complaint calls and emails for situations that actually were not caused by me or the company but outside sources or the complainer themselves (e.g. yelling, angry voicemail from guy who only was paid for part of his work hours on his last check, but had only bothered to enter one day's worth of work into the payroll system).  I survived the day, but was left feeling emotionally drained and wondering why I continue to take the type of abuse that that day's work had brought.

That night, the hubs happened to step outside and come back in through the front door (we usually enter and exit the house through the garage) and noticed a package on the front stoop.  He opened it up and handed a wrapped frame and a note to me.  Wow.  I was blown away.

I run a division of a tutoring company the provides caring, individualized tutoring to some of the students most likely to slip between the cracks.  I don't hire people- I hire mentors and role models.  We are allowed the privilege of doing things others in education often can not because they are so overworked and overloaded that working with a student individually is nothing more than a pipe dream.  When I remember this, I think back to my favorite story...

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? What you're doing doesn't matter."

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 matters to that one." 
(adapted from The Starfish Story, an essay by Loren Eiseley)

 My coworkers and I have the privilege of being given the opportunity to make a difference each day.  And while I may be the bumbling, blathering wizard behind the curtain, trying desperately to keep everything running- my team and I can make a difference in the life of a child.  Daily.  That's why I accept my sub-role of complaint department and come home weary sometimes.  Because it's worth it.

Thank you for the reminder Jen, my lovely friend who sent me an amazingly thoughtful gift at the exact time that I needed to receive it.  You see, in the package on the porch was a frame with a photo of sand and waves crashing with "it matters to that one" written in the sand.  I can't thank you enough Jen.  I am so lucky to have a friend like you, who helps keep me going when the world slows me down.
Photo property of


  1. every time I see a starfish now, I think of you and that story. ;)

  2. I love that story! We need to hear it every once in a while to renew our hearts;).
    I am sorry that ppl are being jerks! What you did is important!

  3. LOVE that story!! And The World really is better for what you and your team do!


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