Aging Well in the Gorge December 21st, 2022

It’s the Christmas Season – a time for memories that stir our senses: the smell of cookies baking in the oven, houses sparkling with Christmas Lights, and Salvation Army bells ringing at local supermarkets. It is also a time to remember how we have been blessed at our chronologically advantaged age and how we can still give back and make a difference. On this Wednesday before Christmas, I would like to share with you “Star Thrower”, a story about making a difference that touched me when I first heard it. This version was inspired by the writings of Loren Eiseley, anthropologist and natural science writer, and adapted by Joel Barker.

“Once upon a time, there was a young man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had the habit of walking along the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore; as he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day, so he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was an old man and the old man wasn’t dancing, but instead, he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something, and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, ‘Good morning! What are you doing?’

The old man paused, looked up and replied, ‘Throwing Starfish into the ocean.’

‘I guess I should have asked; why are you throwing Starfish into the ocean?’

‘The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.’

‘But old man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and Starfish all along it, you can’t possibly make a difference!’

The old man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another Starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. ‘It made a difference for that one.’

His response surprised the man, he was upset, and he didn’t know how to reply, so instead he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.

All day long as he wrote, the image of that old man haunted him; he tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon, he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed the essential nature of the old man’s actions. Because he realized that what the old man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and watch it pass by but was choosing to be an actor in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrassed.

That night he went to bed, troubled. When morning came, he awoke knowing that he had to do something; so he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the old man; and with him spent the rest of the morning throwing Starfish into the ocean.

Brain Tease: The elves and reindeer are getting ready for a meeting with Santa. So far 14 of them have arrived. If they have 38 legs between them, how many reindeer are at the meeting and how many elves are at the meeting?

The name of the capsules that had been laced with potassium cyanide was Tylenol. I received correct answers from Jeannie Pesicka, Emmett Sampson, Nancy Higgins who I also missed last week, Jay Waterbury, Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Rebecca Abrams, Donna Mollett, Bruce Johnson, and Bruce Ruttenburg this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. 

This week’s “Remember When” question is about a toy you may have received on Christmas morning in the ’50s and ’60s. What was the name of the popular toy invented in 1943 that can travel down a flight of stairs, end over end and land upright? Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or send it with a polaroid picture of you and Santa.

Well, it’s been another week, counting my blessings before I go to sleep. Until we meet again, may all of you have a joyous Christmas celebrating peace on earth and goodwill toward all people.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale

Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through

Friday unless otherwise noted.

Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Hood River

Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center

(541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333)

For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services – Goldendale office

(509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068); Skamania County Senior

Services (509-427-3990).

Answer: 9 elves and 5 reindeer

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