Who Wins? Tortoise or Hare?

I have no fantasy that the “tortoises” among humankind win real races.  Neither do I mean to imply that the “hares” among us are in any way lesser creatures than the chelonians, but they are no smarter either.  Nature made both what they are. The only race the tortoise wins, he runs against Achilles in Xeno’s philosophical paradox — frankly a paradox still totally beyond my grasp.  I understand only that Xeno was disproved.

I do ponder whether or not success in life and even happiness has much necessarily to do with winning races all the time. Fate has a way of providing perspective here, say in the careers of Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno. The ways in which the mighty fall are legion.

I am drawn to “slow and steady” over “fast and jumpy” perhaps because I am older and slower these days. But I remember a youth when events had to happen quickly, differently and often. Sex comes to mind as does, the “next big thing.” Hare-like boastfulness and bravado are the traits of youth; and after youth foolishness. Both keep young fighter pilots flying.  God has blessed some youth with early wisdom of whom I am sometimes envious.

Cautiousness and steadfastness go into winning as much as courage and flexibility. There are, of course the other bestial traits of foxiness, wolfishness, sheepishness, even slithering snakiness — ah, the badly-maligned snake. There’s the busyness of bees, fawnish sycophants and the vision of eagles. We often describe humans as sheep, lions,  and gazelles. So, there it is then. I have an affinity for the tortoise and his ways. In the end whether the tortoise or the hare is “happy” or even “successful,” lies in the beholder’s estimation.  At the very least, friend, make the journey interesting.

Steadfast and Cautious,

David Milliken



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2 thoughts on “Who Wins? Tortoise or Hare?

  1. “I have no fantasy that the tortoises among humankind win real races.” The assumption here is that there are real races to win and real finish lines to cross. In on sense, Zeno (a student of Parmenides) may be calling this assump-tion into question. Or as what’s-his-name wrote a couple of thousand years later, “Do I wake or sleep”.
    Now that we are on the Romantics, they, celebrating the individual as they do, might have argued that we all have out own unique finish line to cross. Crossing someone else’s finish line is not winning.
    Actually, Zeno might have appreciated this point-of-view. After all, Achilles lost because he let the tortoise define the race.

    • Imagine my pleasure to discover a thoughtful comment, especially from an old friend and cohort. Thanks, Jack! The Tortoise doesn’t receive a lot of comment, so I am rewarded. As for the Romantics, well, at my age I have learned to to appreciate the more classical view. No surprise there, huh? The blithe spirit is tougn to maintain at 71. Maybe that’s why I find mysteries very enjoyable these days! Hope you come back to The Tortoise Factor. I need to feed the old beast again.

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