Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Turtle Speed

So, about those several posts in a few days encapsulating items from a week's worth of study, reflection and realization? That's not quite happening the way I was expecting. I've sat down to try to post something more than once since I stated that intention, but I have not been successful. Why not? I'm not sure really; it's certainly not for lack of ideas. I have a list of ideas sitting there waiting for me. Yet it somehow feels unnatural and wrong to me to spew them all out at once. I still need to process these ideas more and write them out as they come, even if that is a little slower than what I was expecting it to be.

Slowness--that was one of those ideas, in a way. That I move slowly, process things slowly, figure out what's going on inside my head slowly, make slow progress towards where I'd like to be. If I am going to be content with who I am and not frustrated with myself (through comparison to other people or even simply with my own goals), I am going to have to accept turtle speed.

Turtles are referred to in a rather well-known fable as "slow and steady." "Slow and steady wins the race" is the moral of it. As I consider my life and find reassurance in my perspective on it, I would like to make an addendum--"slow and steady and in the right direction wins the race."

A little obvious, maybe. Still, it's worth thinking about, especially if we're talking about the race as a metaphor for life. No one ever won a race by running away from the goal. We run (or walk or crawl) towards the right goal if we have any desire to win the prize.

That is my comfort right now. That, maybe I'm not at the destination I'd like to be at, and maybe I am not making progress as quickly as I would like, but I do believe that I am going slowly and steadily in the right direction.

Speaking of the destination versus the journey (and slow and steady!): I went on a hike up a mountain during this past week. Now, I am not a person who tends to keep in amazingly athletic shape, so a hike up a mountain is rather a challenging experience for me. I was already sweaty and out of breath and wondering why I had come when I had probably only been going for a few minutes.

Some people felt that the proper way to do the hike was to stop quite often, and you would think I would have been one of them. However, I discovered that it was a lot easier for me to talk myself into simply continuing to put one foot in front of another than it was to stop and go and stop and go again, which would have entailed continually convincing myself to start again. It really was "slow and steady" that kept me going up that mountain.

Then, I got to the view that was supposed to be the destination of the hike and therefore, in my head, supposed to be the purpose, the reward. Maybe for some people it worked out that way, but not for me. The view was pretty, but not worth the trouble of the hike, especially not considering that I'm scared of heights, so I didn't really enjoy looking at it that much, and I kept freaking out about other people being what I thought (irrationally) was "too close" to the edge.

Do I regret going on the hike because I didn't enjoy the view as much as I could have? Not one bit. The awesome part of the hike was the hike. Pushing myself to keep going and finding that I could and enjoying the feeling of making an effort and enjoying the camaraderie and conversation with my fellow hikers.

It might also be that the truly best part of that hike was considering it as a metaphor. I should not be nearly so worried about when I am going to "arrive" or where I am going to "arrive" at. I should by all means keep going--in the right direction--and learn to enjoy the journey itself.

1 comment:

  1. It's puzzling to me the appeal of going about a hike like a turtle, because I find, for myself, that if I do not stop and rest fairly frequently, I will become miserable enough as I keep going that I will be very likely to stop and just not start again. I imagine that the fact that I get a migraine when I overheat also plays into that attitude though.
    Also - in the right direction is most definitely important. Otherwise we might have been strolling down the road, confidently, expecting an overlook when all we would find is the lake.