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The Tortoise and the Hare

by Dr. Amy Johnson on February 8, 2018

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This is my new favorite metaphor for what’s going on within us.

There’s a hare. It is quick and sharp but easily distracted. It darts around, seemingly with purpose…and then it stops unexpectedly, forgets where it is, or changes course.

If you compare the hare to our inner experience, it’s reminiscent of something like a knee-jerk reaction, an emotional outburst, or a distracted 8-year-old. It has a certain quality to it: personal, subjective, opinionated, energetic, scattered, fickle.

There’s also a tortoise. Slow, but steady. Reliable, but tiresome.

The tortoise is a lot easier to miss, especially when you’re used to the dramatic hijinks and quick bolting of the hare. The tortoise can bore you to tears.

And it’s not all about safety or making it to some finish line, but for what it’s worth…the tortoise is the only one you can count on for those things. It might be boring, but it is sensible and seems oddly wise.

Life shows up in both ways. Your inner life, I mean. There are different qualities, different speeds.

It’s like we’re riding on the tortoise’s back, guided safely through life. But we’re often listening to the hare. The hare blathers on and on. Speed up, do more!  What’s around that corner?! We’re not going to make it! Oh wait, what’s that shiny thing over there? I’m hungry, is anyone hungry?

Meanwhile, the tortoise quietly carries you home. Every single time.

The tortoise reminds me what it means to look within. There’s a slow and steady wisdom within. It is mind-bogglingly miraculous when you catch a true glimpse of it. And most of the time it feels boring, unimpressive, or it goes completely unnoticed.

And, there is a dramatic narrator of this slow and steady trek that doesn’t quite match. Universal wisdom always—without exception—moving you through life. And a dramatic, emotional, opinionated storyteller adding very colorful, constantly changing commentary along the way.

It’s like Gilbert Gottfried reading 50 Shades of Grey. Or Dick Vitale doing play-by-play for a golf tournament.

Just knowing these two guys are there—opposing styles and all—gives me a new appreciation for how life feels at times.

(Thank you for sharing this video, Amanda!)

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