Then it hit me… a starfish.
There were two reasons I thought very seriously about getting a starfish tattoo. First of all, starfish regenerate. If they lose one of their arms, they usually grow them back. Like the starfish, I, too, was transforming, recreating my life… regenerating, if you will.
Secondly, I am a big fan of a starfish allegory that goes roughly like this:
An old man is walking along a beach at daybreak as the tide rolls out, and sees what looks like a young boy dancing in the distance along the retreating surf. As he gets closer, he notices two things: There appear to be thousands of starfish that have washed up on the shore, stranded without life-sustaining water. And that the boy is not dancing, he is throwing the starfish into the water, one by one.
The man is struck by what he feels is a futile effort, and asks the boy, “Why are you wasting your energy? You won’t make a difference.” To which the boy responds, “I made a difference to that one,” and throws one back.” And that one,” and throws in another. And so on.
This story is very personal to me because that little boy is, for all intents and purposes, me. Married or divorced, young or old, in Nashville or Memphis or DC, I am a person that is here to make a difference. The starfish reminds me that there is great work to be done to improve the future for people, communities, and organizations, and it is time for me to get to it.