Turtle Envy

Are you suffering from turtle envy?


I think that I am suffering from turtle envy.  Perhaps there are (or were as the case may be) times in your life that you have had the same affliction.  Before I get into the particulars of this not so rare condition, I would like to say a few things about our hard-shelled four-footed friends.

He may move slowly but as that rascally rabbit can attest, he always wins the race.  On top of everything else he brings along his own little fort that he can retreat into at will.  They may look like rocks with arms and legs but they can swim like a fish, well sort of.  And there isn’t just one version.  There are a bunch of different kinds, and some of them live a really long time.

There was this one Indian Ocean Giant Tortoise that was captured as an adult.  They figured he (I guess it was a he) was about fifty years old.  I have no idea how they could figure that out.  Anyway he/she/it lived another one hundred and fifty two years in captivity.  Now that’s a senior citizen.

They have been plodding along at their slow but steady pace for about 200 million years.  Did you ever wonder how they figure that stuff out?  Heck, I have trouble figuring out the expiration date on a can of soup.  I want to meet the guy that figured out when the first turtle showed up.  He could answer the age old question, “what came first, the turtle or the egg”.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, turtle envy….

Wouldn’t it be nice if when life attacks you from all sides you could just pull your arms and legs and head (if you have one left that hasn’t exploded) inside a nice hard shell and wait it out?  Yeah, that would be great.

I really envy the turtle.  There must have been some point in time when the critters trying to eat those turtles were successful.  I know that because God made a couple of modifications to the design.  He came up with the Box Turtle.  I really envy that one.  He not only can hide in his shell he has a front door and a back door that he shuts behind himself.

I guess if you think about it lots of people act like turtles.  They may not have a hard shell to crawl into but they find other ways to “hide out”.  Booze is one way lots of folks hide out.  If you drink enough you forget your troubles for a while.  Not a very long while, but for a little while.  The trouble with that “hide out” is that when you climb back out the situation has probably gotten worse on account of the booze.

Physical pain is another reason we might want to hide out.  As far as I can tell the only physical pain that brings us joy is the pain of childbirth.  Not that I know much about that.  Even so lots of moms would like to find a less painful way to bring a brand new person into the world.

Back when our first child was born, before they let the dads into the room while the new arrival was showing up, I sat in the father’s waiting room, well, I was waiting.  I could hear my wife and knew by the sound of it she wasn’t having much fun.  I wasn’t the one in pain but hearing the woman you love in pain makes you want to hide out until it is all over.

Emotional pain can be even worse than physical pain.  With physical pain you may be able to pull back into your shell by “taking a pill” and away goes the pain.  I remember when I had surgery (twice) and they had me hooked up to some kind of deal where all I needed to do when I was in pain was to push a button and in went a shot of morphine and bingo the pain went away.

Human beings are very adept at figuring out ways to avoid the things that hurt them.  That is if they plan that far ahead.  A good part of the time we can’t avoid troubles or pain.  That’s when we envy the turtle the most.  Only there is a problem because the turtle only seems to be able to hide out.  I know this from first hand experience.

Yesterday I was driving along and I saw a turtle all tucked away in his shell.  He was in the road about four feet from the side.  The passing cars had frightened him so he was doing what came natural to him, he was hiding in his shell.

I had seen this before a long time ago.  A turtle’s shell might be pretty strong but it’s not strong enough to support the weight of a car.  He, at least at the time I thought it was a he, wasn’t aware of how much in danger he was in sitting there in the road.

I turned around and parked my car in the traffic lane and got out.  I picked up the little guy and put him on the side of the road that he was pointed towards.  I was really happy that it worked out because the last time I tried this the results were a disaster.  I’ll explain that a little later.

I told my dad about it while I was completing the rescue.  I had called him on my cell phone.  So the news of my heroic effort was reported to my 90 year old dad 1400 miles away in Florida.  That’s when I learned that the turtle was probably a girl.  He told me that this was the time of year that they crawled out and dug holes to lay their eggs.

How many times in your life have you been half way to your destination when something has forced you back into your shell making you immobile?  How many times have you been sidetracked or stopped completely by circumstances or events (or people for that matter) that you didn’t anticipate?

It was at that moment that I had a revelation.  I realized something that I should have figured out a very long time ago, but I hadn’t.  I realized that my envy for that hard shelled reptile was sadly misplaced.

Hear me out, don’t envy the turtle.  His best defense is to hide within his shell.  If the rabbit only knew that little fact he would have always won the race.  All he needed to do was scare the turtle and the race would have been won.

On top of all that no shell, for the turtle or for us, is strong enough to provide complete protection.  The things or people in this world that want to crush us, or our dreams, won’t be fooled by our hiding out in our self made shell.  To make things worse, we make an easy target when we sit there all curled up inside of ourselves.

I’m not going to envy the turtle any longer.  No, not me, I’m going to envy my neighbor’s cat instead.  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  We have really big black Labrador named Betty (she weigh in at about 100 pounds) and she likes to chase cats.  Well, most cats.

I watched her one day when she attempted to chase my neighbors cat.  She started barking and charged at the cat ready for a fun chase.  What happened next surprised both myself and Betty.  That cat turned hissed and ran at Betty.  The sight of a one hundred pound black lab being chased by a cat the size of the dog’s head was just too much.

Yeah, I’m getting a case of neighbor’s cat envy.  The next time troubles come looking for me I’m going to turn the tables on what ever it is.  You need to do the same.  When life attacks you attack it back.

Remember that old saying about when life gives you lemons you are supposed to make lemonade?  The heck with that!!  When life gives me lemons I’m going to pick them up and toss them back where they came from and go find me some oranges!!!

I almost forgot, about that first turtle that I tried to save.  I pulled over to the side of the road figuring I’d get out and help him across the road.  Well, the car behind me pulled around my car and ran smack over that turtle.  That’s when I should have realized that turtle envy is not where it’s at.

Until next time, keep smiling.  And if you giggle just a little once and a while you will confuse everyone around you and that can be a good thing.

Please remember that I am donating 50% of the royalties from the sale of my novel "Operation Armageddon" to Soldier On.  For more information please visit my website tagewright.blogspot.com

Thank you for your time.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark T. Kalinowski May 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Nice article. There was once a marquis in front of Eastern Connecticut State University's administrative office that read, "Behold the turtle. If it never stuck it's neck out, it would make no progress at all." Now that's a lesson for us all. Blog on Mr. Wright.


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