Monday, July 9, 2012

The Journey of the Hare and the Tortoise

Most people are familiar with the morale of the traditional story of the Hare and the Tortoise.  The story goes like this according to the Aesop’s Fables: 
One day a hare was bragging about how fast he could run. He bragged and bragged and even laughed at the tortoise who was so slow. The tortoise stretched out his long neck and challenged the hare to a race, which, of course, made the hare laugh. 
"My, my, what a joke!" thought the hare.
"A race, indeed; a race. Oh!  What fun!  My, my!  A race, of course, Mr. Tortoise, we shall race!" said the hare. 
The forest animals met and mapped out the course. The race begun, and the hare, being such a swift runner, soon left the tortoise far behind. About halfway through the course, it occurred to the hare that he had plenty of time to beat the slow trodden tortoise.
"Oh, my!" thought the hare, "I have plenty of time to play in the meadow here."
And so he did.
After the hare finished playing, he decided that he had time to take a little nap.
"I have plenty of time to beat that tortoise," he thought. And he cuddled up against a tree and dozed.
The tortoise, in the meantime, continued to plod on, albeit, it ever so slowly. He never stopped, but took one good step after another.
The hare finally woke from his nap. "Time to get going," he thought. And off he went faster than he had ever run before! He dashed as quickly as anyone ever could up to the finish line, where he met the tortoise, who was patiently awaiting his arrival.
Morale: Plodding wins the race.

“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

There are many other ways to look at this story and find a morale in it:
Morale: Success depends on using your talents, not just having them.
Morale: Never give up when faced with failure.
Morale: Over-confidence, careless and lax; took winning for granted.
Morale: Slow and steady versus fast and reliable.
Morale: Arrogance and being a douche bag with a big ego.
Morale: Working with your strength will get you noticed; and bring advancement and growth.
Morale: With cooperation, they both can win; and face all kinds of challenges, like the hare carrying the tortoise over land while the tortoise was carrying the hare while swimming across the river.
Morale: Life is not only competition against others; compete against the circumstance or against yourself (trying to better yourself) to increase your performance.

I like you to consider a completely different viewpoint on this story.  Let’s consider the hare and the tortoise stand for two different personalities.  One races through life, never looking left or right; never stopping long enough to learn and to enjoy. He arrives at the goal, only to find out that he missed out on life itself.  While the tortoise goes slowly, smelling the flowers, learning lessons and overcoming setbacks, arriving at the goal with a great satisfaction.
The second example could be compared to the healing journey where we can restore our mind, body and soul.  Winning can have a whole different meaning in this context.  It is the one who arrives at the goal relaxed and peaceful who is the true victor.  In the end it is not important how fast we get to the goal but rather that we reach it with all the accomplishment of a rich and vibrant life.  Obviously, this has a different meaning for all of us.  None-the-less, we want to learn the lessons of life and grow and develop our full potential.  Life often asks us to stand back and listen.  Most importantly, we don’t want to compare ourselves with others, since each one has a different course based on our personal history.
Note that I am putting a lot of symbolic meaning in my observation.  The idea of going slow to go fast has its origin in the Martial Arts.  The meaning there is that we need to be relaxed to go faster.  It is certainly helpful to have a plan of action and think things through rather than just running and then run out of steam or motivation.

With vacation time approaching I hope that we all can take some time to slow down and enjoy ‘the art of vacationing' which is to slow down enough to make room for something new. 

No comments: