In Loren Eiseley’s classic story The Unexpected Universe, a small boy was walking along the beach with his dad one morning. It was low tide and the receding water had left thousands of starfish stranded on the sand as far as the eye could see. The sun was heating up and the starfish were drying and would soon die. The little boy busied himself by picking up and throwing the creatures back into the surf. Growing impatient, his father said, “There are so many. The few you throw back into the ocean won’t make a difference”. The boy tossed another starfish into the water, looked up at his dad and said, “It made a difference to that one”.
There are so many people suffering on the planet and the need is so great that it can seem overwhelming. Of course, there are limitations as to how much one person can accomplish. You don’t have to change the world. Change your world. Start with the person who stands before you. Be sensitive to their needs. Be considerate of their feelings. Lend an ear. Lend a hand.
In practical terms, what this means is take the time to listen when you feel your partner has the need to vent their feelings, make them a cup of coffee in the morning when they are running late, pick up the bread on your way home from work so they don’t have to make an extra trip, rub their neck when you sense their tension, bring them a blanket when the sun has dipped behind a cloud and the temperature drops.
Know that your partner does not consider these acts as simply trying to save a trip or keep them comfortable. Your behavior means so much more to them. They see these things you do for them as acts of love. Your small kindnesses are concrete, undeniable demonstrations of your love for them. This is how they know they are loved.
Every act of kindness, no matter how small, makes a difference.
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