Today, let’s talk about the fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
You may recall the story about the over-confident hare who made fun of the tortoise’s slow and steady speed as he traversed his homeland. At the suggestion of the tortoise to have a race and prove that he could easily defeat the hare, the hare confidently agreed after he laughed assuredly. The fox said he would monitor the race to declare the winner.
Now we all know the ending to this fable…the hare being so, one could say, cocky, that he could run fast and secure the win, choose to take a nap by the side of the road in the middle of the race. And as he napped, the turtle, slowly and steadily made his way to the finish line.
What can we learn from fables like this one? There always seems to be a message, a lesson for us to ponder and, just maybe we could apply the moral of the fable to our lives.
One obvious lesson might be “slow but steady wins the race.”
Another lesson may be that we too often put things off —important things—things that maybe we want to do but are reluctant to start or continue, fearing change that might proceed it.
Do you believe that slow but steady wins the race? That one doesn’t need speed to be successful. What about the early bird gets the worm? We’ve been told this forever!
Let’s move forward and see what else we come up with…maybe an answer to our questions.
In Classical times it was not the Tortoise’s plucky conduct in taking on a bully that was emphasized but the Hare’s foolish over-confidence. However, an old Greek source comments that ‘many people have good natural abilities which are ruined by idleness; on the other hand, sobriety, zeal and perseverance can prevail over indolence’.
And our Greg reminds us that “the tortoise never lost sight of his goal, never got sidetracked. He/she never faltered even when it was clearly way behind.”
Later interpreters too have asserted that the fable’s moral is the proverbial ‘the more haste, the worse speed’ or have applied to it the biblical observation that ‘the race is not to the swift’ from Ecclesiastes 9:11.
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
Greg also likes this lesson, “The tortoise had faith in itself, never doubted that it would finish. Faith will carry us through.”
Maybe you could think of others as they relate to your own journey.
Even though we are all One, we are all different in outward looks. Different in likes and dislikes. We work at different speeds. And work best at different times. For me, I work best in the morning. I can work any part of the day, but best in the morning, especially when I am writing.
Others say, “Don’t call until after 10, or even later!” They are late night people and not up and ready until much later than my 7 AM.
But let’s look at this fable from a different point of view…our Spiritual Journey. I can recall a few times when the folks in my Tuesday class have discussed our journeys, and when we or another were on the Spiritual Spiral. As we moved through the different levels, if you will, of Spiritual evolution, we notice different behaviors associated with each level.
In the Spiral Dynamics of any religion, culture, …even business; we all go through different levels, if you will, of the evolution of that specific dynamic. Each dynamic goes through 7 stages:
1. Instinctive, survivalistic
2. Magical, animalistic
3. Purposeful, authoritarian
4. Archivist, strategic
5. Communitarian, egalitarian
6. Integrative Meme
7. Holistic Meme
Spiral Dynamics is a very interesting concept and it may help you understand family and friends better.
Still, we are all traveling toward the same destination…the connection with our Divine Self, our Authentic Self. And we all agree that we move along that path, however windy and rugged, to reach that destination.
Like the tortoise and the hare, we all arrive at the same destination, together, eventually. The classic tale of the tortoise and the hare reminds us that different people take life at different speeds and that one way is not necessarily superior to another.
In fact, we are reminded, in the story it is the slower animal that ends up arriving at the destination first. In the same way, some of us seem to move very quickly through the issues and obstacles we all face in our lives. We say seems because we do not know what goes on inside their hearts, we only try to know what goes on in our hearts.
Others need long periods of time to process their feelings and move into new states of awareness. I have a couple of friends who take a bit of time to process a class, a discussion, a Sunday Sermon. It would have to be later in the day, or often a day or so later before any discussion or reaction to the topic could be discussed. That’s just the way they are and it’s best to know that so both people understand when the topic could be discussed. I had to adjust to wishing for immediate feedback or a continued discussion right at that minute.
This is good to know in relationships, or misunderstandings could develop.
For those of us who perceive ourselves as moving quickly, it can be painful and exasperating to deal with someone else’s slower pace. Yet, just like the tortoise and the hare, we all arrive at the same destination together, eventually.
Do you recall the visual of people climbing the mountain of Spiritual Knowledge with many different paths surrounding it? This is the same idea, many paths, many speeds, same destination.
People who take their time with things are probably in the minority in most of the world today. We live in a time when speed and productivity are valued above almost anything else. Therefore, people who flow at a slower pace may feel out of sync with the world and are often pestered and prodded to go faster and do more.
This can be not only frustrating but also counterproductive because the stress of being pushed to move faster than one is able to move actually slows progress and errors may be made especially in the business world.
I recall working at IBM and one of the jobs was pulling orders. And we kept track of our time spent on each task. You were anxious to do well but to also not make mistakes. It was a bit stressful until one got the hang of the whole process.
On the Spiritual Journey, pushing someone to move faster will only frustrate them and you. And more often than not, they will lose ground in the understanding of Spirit.
If a person’s style is honored and supported, they will find their way in their own time and, just like the tortoise, they might just beat the speedier, more easily distracted person to the finish line of Spiritual growth and understanding.
Hebrews 121 states: “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us”
The race that is set before each of us, our own individual race.
It’s important to remember that we are not actually in a race to get somewhere ahead of someone else, and it is difficult to judge by appearances whether one person has made more progress than another. Whether you count yourself among the fast movers or as one of the slower folks, we can all benefit from respecting the pace that those around us choose for themselves. This way, we can keep our eyes on our own journey, knowing that we will all end up together in the end.
In 1 CORINTHIANS 9:24-27 we focus on the always-immediate question of how we are to move through this human experience once we are awakened to our true identity as Spirit. Paul compares the awakened life to a race, except that we all win in the end.
Like runners, we stay focused on the destination, but we move forward in an energy of cooperation rather than competition. And we maintain “self-control in all things” so that our mortal pleasures and distractions do not overwhelm us as the race continues.
Lately, we see many examples of trading the fast and furious life in for the slow and steady as we learn what is important in life. In fact, that may be a beneficial side effect of this pandemic. Some have learned how peaceful it can be to work from home instead of traveling to and from work each day. Setting your work schedule to fit your best work time can be very productive.
“A Consistent hard worker will always beat the lazy talented one” — Anonymous
So, go with the slow! Life is about enjoying what’s around you now and finding your own path. It’s about the beauty of the journey more than the achievement of the finish line. . . notice, savor, bask, risk, grow. Put some life back in your life!
You can’t move forward until you stick your neck out, and the slower you go, the more you see.
Like the Tortoise, we run because we have been told that we are in a race and like the Tortoise our race isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon that is completed one step at a time.