Growing up, I loved the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
For anyone who doesn’t know it, it’s a story about a tortoise and a hare who decide to have a race. Of course, the hare is much faster than the tortoise, and, as they start the race, the tortoise falls farther and farther behind.
Eventually, confident in his lead, the hare stops for a nap, and, in that time, the tortoise catches up and manages to win the race.
When I used to read this story, it was clear to me that the message was to keep your pride in check, as the hare would have won the race if he simply continued to run instead of showing off by stopping to rest part way.
Now when I read it, I see the story a little differently.
Reading this story as a child, I wanted to be the hare, except I wanted to be focused enough to keep running and win the race.
As a college student, it’s easy to be the hare. With classes and jobs filling our days, and health, homework and friends to worry about, it’s easy to just keep running and running, never slowing down to see the world around you, always racing past life in an attempt to get ahead.
As an adult, I succeeded at being the hare for quite some time, but the stress it put me through was hardly worth it. I spent so much time striving for perfection, judging the people I thought were beneath me, as if that would somehow secure my place ahead of them. I spent so much energy running on and on, never looking around to enjoy the world around me.
My struggle has been learning to be the tortoise.
My new goal is to live in such a way that life is a little less about winning and a little more about the path to getting there. My new goal is to spend a little more time with the people I love smelling the roses instead of keeping my eyes peeled for competition. My new goal is to spend a little more time enjoying every moment instead of plowing through each one.
In my life, I’ve seen a lot of hares, especially since entering college, but the challenge I want to issue is to slow down even a little — to learn to be a tortoise even if it takes more effort than blindly racing forward.
Eventually, the people racing through life will tire, and, even if they make all the progress in the world, it’s harder to enjoy a life you rush through.
In the words of the tortoise, “slow and steady wins the race.” And, even if it doesn’t, at least you enjoyed the ride.