On Being A Turtle

I’m just beginning to realize I’m a “slow” person. I take my time to think, to process everything I do before I move forward to action. Although I’ve been like this all my life, for some reason the magnitude of my overall slowness, with the exception of my (sometimes) quick wit in conversation, has just recently dawned on me. My energy level due to many birthdays is waning, causing me to be even slower, and that may have sparked my realization.

My mother told me that I started talking at the age of nine months. However, no one could understand me (I wonder what language I was really speaking? Or was that a function of how I heard things?), so I stopped talking and didn’t start up again until I was a year and a half old.

In high school geometry class, our teacher Mr. Gregory started off the period with a fast thinking exercise with which I could never keep up. So frustrating when I knew I wasn’t stupid and when other students would have the answer the moment after Mr. Gregory stopped talking.

When I was still in my 20’s, a teaching colleague asked me one day why I walked so slowly. I was undone. I hadn’t known there was a preferred pace of walking. I hadn’t known people were watching me walk. I hadn’t felt slow. What’s more, I didn’t really have an answer.

I love to write, but it takes me forever to come to a finished piece that is acceptable to me, and I assume, to others. Other writers can knock off an essay, novel, or poem quickly, but not me.

I have also realized that being slow has aggravated me in all areas of production, all my life, from my walking and exercising speed, to my writing, to personal relationships. While I love being connected with people, especially those who vibrate at a higher level, I function better when I have time to myself. I lose myself when I am constantly engaged with others, going from one event to another. It’s as if the muscle memory in my brain needs time to catch up because it’s used to my slower pace.

A quotation by Hans Selye, CC, endocrinologist, has provided me some explanation and comfort for my need of large amounts of free time and my slowness.

“Find your own stress level—the speed at which you can run toward your own goal. Make sure that both the stress level and the goal are really your own, and not imposed on you by society, for only you yourself can know what you want and how fast you can accomplish it. There is no point in forcing a turtle to run like a racehorse or in preventing a racehorse from running faster than a turtle because of some moral obligation. The same is true of people.”

While I enjoy prancing like a racehorse from time to time, the truth is that what I need to survive is a slower pace. Now I know why. While others are passing me by, instead of wishing I could be as swift, I plan to embrace being a turtle.

 

 

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