“I want to win something,” whined the boy. And his father raised his eyebrows at him. “Everyone of my friends are winning something. Only I don’t get to win. Just look at the number of medals my friends have accumulated. I participate in so many things. But I don’t win anything. I want to win!”
The boy’s father waited until his son had regained the breath he had lost in making his emotionally-fueled speech. “Have you thought about why you are not winning?”
The boy looked at his father for a while as he stood pondering the question. “Maybe I am not as good as they are. But I work so hard at everything I do. They don’t even practice anything. They just swoop in and win. It is just not fair.”
“So, from what you are saying, you work hard, and your friends don’t. But they win. Right?”
“Why do you think they win?”
“Dad, you are asking the same question in a different way.”
“That is because, I am hoping for a different answer.”
The boy thought for a while. “I can say they are better than I am. But when I practice, I become just as good as they are. And yet, they win. Why do you think it is that way, Dad?”
“It is because they are the hares that did not go to sleep.”
“In the hare and the tortoise story, what do you think would have happened if the hare had not gone to sleep?”
“The hare would have won the race easily.”
“So, why did the tortoise challenge the hare in the first place?”
“It was a foolish thing to do,” said the boy, wrinkling his nose. “I think the tortoise got too emotional over the hare’s boasting and challenged it for a race.”
“If the tortoise should have challenged anybody for a race, who do you think it should have challenged?”
“That’s easy. It should have challenged another tortoise.”
“Because, silly, that is only fair. A challenge should be to test the best among equals.”
“In other words, both the animals were moving at their own speed, only the challenge was wrong.”
The boy raised his eyebrows towards his father. “Are you trying to tell me that I am slow, and foolish?”
The father raised his hands in defense. “All I am trying to tell you is that you have your own speed. Everyone has their own speed. Your friends win because they think faster and move faster. But it does not mean that you are bad.”
“Will I never win then? How will I know which one of my friends is a tortoise, and try to win against him?”
The father burst with laughter. “Remember son, the tortoise always outlives the hare.”
“Have patience. Your time will come. It may be slow. But it will arrive.”
The world is full of tortoise people and hare people.
Some of us move at incredible speeds. We are always everywhere, doing everything, trying to catch time. And when things are working for us, it is easy to stay positive. There is another whole bunch of us, who are…um…slow. We move so slowly that time keeps moving in circles, just to catch up with us.
Being slow can be quite frustrating, and we tend to give in to our emotions. But, being slow is not bad. Being slow is just a different timeline.
It is a timeline that does not experience burnouts or ends up in a burrow with a thumping heartbeat. Being slow is a timeline that is hard to crack through. Being slow lives longer.
All we have to do is, be aware of our timelines and keep moving. The challenge lies in being patient, and waiting for time to smile upon us. And not competing with the hares, of course.
Here’s to acknowledging and accepting the tortoise within!