The Tortoise and the Snail

Most of us know Aesop’s fable of the Hare and the Tortoise with its underlying premise of slow and steady triumphing over undisciplined speed. But, I wonder if that is really the best lesson in today’s chaotic world. Perhaps the snail’s adaptability offers a better analogy for navigating life’s twists and turns.

For example, the race between the Hare and the Tortoise was based on one objective: who could get from point A to point B the quickest. What Aesop failed to factor in were life’s obstacles. Perhaps, with a different opponent and racecourse, the outcome and lesson would be different. So, here’s the purple snail’s version of Aesop’s fable.

One day the Tortoise was bragging about his size and strength, making fun of the Snail for being so slow and small.

“You are small and slimy and only have one foot. Do you ever get anywhere?” the Tortoise asked with a mocking laugh.

“Yes,” replied the Snail, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”

The  Tortoise was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Snail, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.

The Tortoise was soon out of sight, and to make the Snail feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for a small snail to win a race with a large Tortoise, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Snail should catch up.

The Snail meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily until it came to a pile of rocks blocking the road. The Tortoise, seeing the Snail approach, struggled to climb over the rocks, but the harder he pushed the more tired he became. The Snail looked at the rocks, twitched its antennae and started to climb and climb and climb. Its one sticky foot clung to the rocks and the Snail slowly climbed over one, then another rock, and eventually got to the other side. The Tortoise also attempted to climb the pile of rocks and stretched out his legs to climb. He tried and tried, but was so heavy he lost his footing and flipped over on his back.  Finally, the Fox came along, turned the Tortoise over and showed him a way around the pile. When the Tortoise finally got to the goal line the Snail had left him a note:

The race is not always based on speed and strength; sometimes the most adaptable wins. 

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