A reflection on the power of determination.
Many of you know that I like turtles, and I often wear a necklace with a sea turtle charm. This necklace and the symbol of the turtle connect me to the ocean, a place of power, strength, and utter relaxation with my family. The power of the ocean shapes the shoreline, influences our weather patterns, and connects us to the very substance of our bodies. Just like the relentless ocean waves in which they ride, turtles amaze me with their strength and determination. Each summer my family visits Siesta Key, Florida where female loggerhead sea turtles haul their 300-pound bodies from the water and lumber their way above the high tide line of the beach. There, with their hind flippers, they dig a hole and deposit an average of 100 eggs. Then they cover the nest with sand and return to the ocean where they are buoyed by the water and waves once more, weightless and graceful. Having delivered my babies, I cannot imagine the endurance and strength this journey requires.
When the eggs hatch, the baby turtles follow the light of the moon to the ocean where they mature. In 17-30 years they too will return to Siesta Key to lay their own eggs. In the meantime, the mature females return each year to continue the cycle.
It is no wonder, then, that one of my favorite stories is that of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise is a vision of steadfast determination and patient perseverance. Read below, where one of my clients, Kim Spoonhower, adapted the story to remind us how slow and steady steps to improving our diet and fitness helps us maintain our health for a lifetime rather than succumbing to the temptation of quick fixes.
The Story of the Tortoise & the Hare
Hare, fresh off setting a personal record in the Woodland 5K, stood before the mirror to admire the graceful arch of his perfectly toned hind legs. He snapped a sweaty selfie, posted his stunning achievement to Furbook, and gulped the last of his Super Smoothie with Power Carrot Extract.
“I can beat that turtle in my sleep.” Hare winked at his reflection as he ate a Lettuce-Line Super Crunch Energy Boost Bar and dashed out the door for the big race.
Meanwhile, Tortoise ambled to the starting line of the long-anticipated Race for Health 5K. With a quiet confidence, she hugged her family, took a sip of water, and hunkered down to await the start of the race. She had slowly increased her mileage over the last few months, taking care to get plenty of swimming and stretching on the days she did not run. Although she had never been a particularly fast runner, she felt strong and prepared for the miles that loomed ahead. She did her best to ignore Hare’s blaring music that leaked around the ear buds jammed into his over-size ears.
The start gun blasted and Hare shot off the line and disappeared over the horizon. Tortoise smiled her wise smile and set off at her own pace. She waved at friends and family who lined the course to cheer her on, and stopped to hug a neighbor whom she had not seen for some time. She paused at the water station to take a refreshing drink of water, and listened as a friend gave her a recipe for a frozen fruit smoothie that did not sound too difficult to make at home. Tortoise smiled at the green blades of grass that waved in her wake, and reveled in the warmth of the sunshine on her shell. She was so busy enjoying her morning run that she did not notice Hare sleeping by the side of the road at the 2-mile marker.
Hare’s energy drink had started to wear off at the first mile marker. His stomach hurt from the energy bar and his pace slowed to a crawl. By mile 2 he could no longer keep his eyes open, so he lay down in the shade and told himself he would just take a quick power nap.
A roar of distant applause woke Hare from his peaceful slumber. He loped along the racecourse, aching and confused. “What’s that noise?” he asked a bird at the side of the road.
“Tortoise just won first place in the Race for Health!” chirped the bird. Several months later, Tortoise was enjoying a morning run with her friend when they passed the forlorn Hare sitting along the side of the road. “How are you, Hare? Are you still running? I haven’t seen you posting on Furbook,” said Tortoise.
“No, I tore a muscle and have not been able to run. Or hop. Because I can’t run I gained some weight from all those energy bars and almost got caught by Fox the other day. My wife has not forgiven me for endangering our family. How are you?”
“I am well, thank you,” said Tortoise. “I am running or swimming every day. I try to eat well, although I still enjoy a few potato chips when I can find them. Would you like to join us for a jog? That is, so long as you don’t brag about your lightening speed, for slow and steady wins the race.”