Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Turtle Girls

I’m guessing the turtle sensed I was approaching before I saw her.  Did she see me?  Feel the vibrations of my bicycle on the asphalt?  I’m not sure.  As I crested the hill, there she was in the middle of the street.  It was early Sunday morning so I hadn’t yet seen anyone out and about.  Still, I worried.  I rode past her on the downhill, enjoying my break from pedaling and rounded the corner past my house to start the loop again. 

I was out early on the bike because my dear friend talked me into doing a triathlon with her to celebrate her 40th birthday.  I rode up the other side of my neighborhood and back to the hill with the turtle.  She had made a little progress since I last saw her.  “Why did the turtle cross the road?” I thought with a smile.

I thought the triathlon would force me to be more adventurous.  Instead, I worried.  I worried about swimming in a crowded pool.  I worried about biking on a road open to traffic.  I worried about the heat in August.  And now, I was worried about a turtle.

The turtle wasn’t worried.  The third time I passed by I could tell that she had a goal to reach the shaded grass at the edge of the street. 

I didn’t used to be so uptight.  When Kristin and I met almost twenty years ago, life was an adventure.  We thought nothing of driving ten hours down to Alabama—roommates in a log cabin—to teach outdoor education.  Weekends were chances for new escapades.  One week we went camping with only the hats on our heads.  Another week we drank green beer in Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day. 

I find that my mind has wandered to the past and I’m almost surprised when I’m back to the turtle again.  It is getting later now and I consider moving her out of harm’s way, but I don’t.  I feel like that would be cheating her out of the satisfaction of reaching her goal.

Kristin and I were turtles once.  That time it was me who talked her into running a marathon.   We were young and healthy, we thought.  How hard could it be?  We made matching t-shirts that said, “Slow and steady finishes the race,” and painted turtles on the front.  “Go turtle girls,” the spectators shouted as we plodded by.  We found out that running 26 miles is harder than we thought…but we did it!

I don’t know what happened to the adventurous spirits we had.  We grew up, became mothers to our own children.  Now my motto is, “I can be spontaneous with 24 hours notice.”  Maybe that’s why competing in this triathlon meant so much to us.  Maybe we were trying to recapture some of our adventurous spirit—or prove that we still had it after all. 

Now my training brings me to the turtle.  Every time I ride by, I check on her progress.  She started to take on a symbolism for me.  “If she can reach her goal,” I thought, “so can I!”  Native Americans believed the turtle was a symbol of strength and perseverance.  When the turtle finally reached the edge, I felt privileged to witness her success.  She continued on into the grass where I lost sight of her.

My heart aches for the people in Boston today.  People sign up for a race for different reasons, goals and dreams.   No one dreams of losing a life or a limb or a loved one.  No one dreams that their race will end without a finish line.

This week I will run/walk 26.2 miles.  Not all at once.  Not fast.  Like a turtle.  Slowly but surely.  For the people of Boston.

1 comment:

  1. just lovely! go turtle girl! & let us know how your 26.2 miles go! I can't promise that distance this week, but will keep Boston in my heart during my daily walks. xoxo