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Sep 25

Stars

Speaker: Sandip Mahapatra

A young man was walking along the beach one morning and saw a human figure dancing on the shore. Curious, he walked over and realized it was actually a little girl throwing something into the sea. He asked, ‘Hey girl, what are you doing?’ The girl replied, ’I’m throwing star fishes into the sea.’ The man looking more curious asked, ’But, why?’ to which she replied, ‘The sun is coming up and the tide is going down. If I don’t throw them back into the sea, they will die’. The man smiled and said, ‘There are miles of beach and hundreds of starfishes. There’s more starfish than you ever can ever save. What difference does it make?’ The politely listened, picked up another starfish and tossed it into the sea and said, ‘It made a difference to that one’.

Good evening TME, Club president, fellow toastmasters and guests, I am Sandip and today I present a speech titled 5 Stars. This was written by Loren Eiseley to shows that every little thing we do can hold a very special meaning to someone else.  How many of us, before we embark on a task think, What difference does it make? Does it even matter to anyone? These questions although important, sometimes, stop us from even trying. These questions make us like the curious young man. So today, I will give you 5 actions, stars, that will help you, think like that little girl instead.

  1. Share: When we give, we part from something that we have and give it to someone who doesn’t. Be it alms to the needy or love to the loveless. What we get in return is far more valuable that what we shared; a sense of satisfaction that we have made a small difference which means a lot to the person. To quote Bhudda, ‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened’.
  2. Try without fear. It doesn’t matter whether it makes a difference to one person, or to the whole world. When we internalize a belief that we can make a difference, we try – and the converse holds true too. I’d like to quote a retired professional cyclist, Jens Voigt on this theory of trying, ‘When in doubt, I just go for the win. If I try, there is a maybe a 10% chance of winning; but if I don’t, there is 0% chance. For me, 10% is better than zero, that’s just logic!’
  3. Attention. Rather than just hear, listen. The former uses the ears, but the latter uses the brain and the heart. Learn to listen to people, be it their complaints and woes, or just sharing. How many of you spend time with elderly listening to them? Every trip I make to India, I sit and listen to my grandmother’s stories. These stories are those of my uncles and mum since they were kids. How these make her feel – be it happy, sad or even regret. Obviously, I can’t understand her feelings. All I do is just sit and listen and I feel we’ve grown closer together so much so she cries every time I leave.
  4. Relationships. Humans, regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert in character, are social animals. And when I mention relations, it’s not about how many ‘friends’ you have on Facebook or followers on Instagram or Twitter. How many here have watched, ‘Cast Away’ starring Tom Hanks? I’m referring to the relationship Hanks had with ‘Wilson’ – especially the scene where he lost Wilson. How many of you have such relationships, that you feel empty when you don’t talk to or meet these people from time to time? Make everyone you meet your ‘Wilson’ and let them see the ‘Wilson’ within you. As for old relationships and keep the flame alive, because without realizing you need them more than you realize, and they too need you, more than they’ll admit.
  5. Stand up for someone’s rights. How many here have heard of the recent incident of a young boy who was being verbally abused by an elderly gentleman on the MRT and another young man stood up for him? How many times do we see in the news of people being abused physically and emotionally? What do we do, except pity the people, sympathize with them. But thoughts like, it’s not my business, I don’t interfere is the first thing that comes to mind. Again I’d like to quote a line I heard from an old Indian movie about corruption in politics ‘Everyone says Indian politics is a garbage dump, dirty and smelly. But how many of you are willing to jump in and try to clean it. Today it’s one person who is the victim; tomorrow will him and her. The day after, it will be all of you.’ If you don’t stand up for someone else when you see injustice, tomorrow and the impact may be on you. What are you going to do then?

We’ve always been told to look at the bigger picture by our colleagues and bosses, our families and sometimes, even strangers. But I implore you, when you look at the bigger picture, don’t lose sight of the smaller things. As you walk on the beach and enjoy the sun, sand and the sea, don’t lose sight of the starfish that you could save. So starting today, for these 5 days of the National holidays, use these 5 stars – S for Share your joys; T for Try without fear; A Attention – listen, don’t just hear; R for Relationships – value them and nurture them and the second S for Stand up for someone else. Get yourself to pick up a starfish and toss it into the ocean. With the hope, just like the little girl, to inspire another person to toss a starfish too.

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