I like turtles. I have a collection of turtle figurines, small toys and artwork. My daughters have contributed with original art and one plush turtle made in home-ec. I used to say turtles were my totem animal, but now I know that’s appropriative. So instead I now refer to them as inspirations and role models.
I look at sea turtles and I see a creature who has to navigate on two very different environments in order to survive individually and as a species. On land they’re awkward, ungainly, dragging themselves across beaches to lay eggs. In the sea, they are graceful, in their element, soaring along through the water.
I can relate. I have had a lot of awkward moments in my life, feeling ungraceful and out of my element. And then there are the moments of soaring, of gliding and of feeling perfectly in the groove.
There’s another way I relate to turtles, land tortoises in this case. The legendary slowness of tortoises has been laughed at by hares all through history. I’ve often envied people who make decisions and act quickly. I’ve envied the people who seemed to know from a young age what shape their lives would take. They’ve run off like hares while I’ve taken my time, sniffing flowers and lying on my back to watch the clouds go by. Unlike the hare in the old story, however, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to their sprint.
I’m a turtle, I know this, I used to fight it because I envied those speedy rabbits. I envied that certainty. My brother is a rabbit, he’s known from a young age that he would be successful and, with the exception of a length detour through some very bad times, has driven himself to success and is still moving in an upward direction on his chosen career ladder. I fell into software development. It was interesting and I like solving puzzles. I have been fairly successful in terms of longevity and monetary reward. For a while it felt like a passion and now it feels less so. Anyway, I digress.
Red, with no small amount of love, calls me ‘glacial’ – that’s her way of describing the slow, methodical way I move from idea to decision to action. At first, I bristled at her description and then I recognized the truth. I’m not stationary, but I don’t move quickly on things I think are really important. I take my time – “no haste, no waste” is one of my guiding principals. I am a turtle, it’s in my nature. I’m also able to move gracefully in my element. That’s also in my nature.
Sometimes envy still comes up and nips at me and I wish maybe I’d started writing earlier in my life, or figured out poly earlier or started exploring kink at a younger age. Some of that comes from this sense that I’m running out of time to do ALL THE THINGS. Sometimes that misgiving comes from the recognition that I’m really enjoying this now and if I’d started enjoying it earlier, that’d just be more enjoyment. Regardless, this is where I am now, and all the places I’ve been and people I’ve been with and ways I’ve been in the world inform the me I am now. And I really like the me I am now. I like the me I am now and even though there’s a possibility I’d have liked being me earlier in my life, that’s not how it unrolled for me.
I have turtled my way to where I am now and it’s a pretty good place. And when I’m in my good place, I am as graceful as a sea turtle soaring through seaweed.
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