Friday, March 13, 2009

March Madness: A Turtle's View on Writing and Life



Spring is in the air here in California. The afternoons are sunny, the lilies are leafing out and Boyd is coming out of her burrow and basking in the sun. Boyd, a twenty plus year old female box turtle who is not at all nonplussed at having a male name, has that kind of ponderous wisdom that we can all learn from. I’m quite positive this armor plated gal has plenty to share, via her humble human translator.
Number one: Start gently. Boyd starts every morning with a soak in some nice warm water. I take note of this as I rush into the kitchen at 4:30 a.m.; desperately searching for my Muppet coffee cup and calculating how many words I need to write before waking up the little Mentinks. Not Boyd. Rushing is not her gig. She hunkers down in that water and lets the morning come to her. I try to learn. Plopping into my office chair I start my day with a devotional. Today’s thought is from Maltbie D. Babcock. This is my Father’s world. I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought. I think Boyd would approve.
Number Two: Plod ahead. Box turtles are not the most graceful creatures in the animal kingdom. I’ve seen this turtle work for a good five minutes to get over a pile of clothes left on the floor during her indoor gadabout. Those little legs scoop and dig and push until she triumphs. Is it poetry in motion? No. Does it allow for blistering speed? Nah. But that turtle will get where she means to go, just as that novel is written one pesky word at a time, or those pounds are whittled away ounce by tiny ounce. Perseverance? Thy name is turtle.
Number Three: Go outside. Writers and countless other busy adult types can exist for days, perhaps months without risking a sunbeam or two. Not so with a turtle. Boyd in particular will scope out a nice sunny spot and shimmy down into the flora and soak in the glory of the day. Go outside? When I’ve a thousand words to write, laundry to fold and a plethora of e-mails to return? How can I justify sitting when I am so thoroughly steeped in business?
Boyd fixes me with her yellow eyed stare and I have the oddest feeling that she understands God’s intent in Psalm 46:10 better than I do.
Be still and know that I am God.
Could a turtle really understand what’s important? The precious gift of sunshine, the enjoyment of a moment showered down on us and meant to be savored? The exquisite blessing of a sunny spring day?
She gives me a wink and continues to savor the blessing of a March afternoon. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll turn off my computer and go join her.

1 comment:

PamelaTracy said...

What a great comparison between a turtle and a writer. You'll need to use it someday in a workshop.