Wild animals can be our spirit guides as we navigate the peaks and valleys of life. But while many thrill at the sight of a soaring red-tailed hawk or a powerful stallion racing across the plains, the humbler creatures you see inching across a four-lane highway can also teach valuable lessons. These plodding members of the order Testudines know that the things you want may not fall into your lap this second, this year, this decade, or even this half-century. But take heart: Slow and steady is a valid life pace! Here are some turtles and tortoises that will inspire you, hard.
This Baby Turtle
Aww! Just like you, this baby turtle bubbles with dreams and aspirations that are bigger than her shell. Her fantasy of not being eaten by a stray cat may feel as far off as your dream of being on Broadway, or at least as far as that birch tree over there. However, she knows she needs time to develop a thick enough cartilaginous covering to withstand the feline haters she’ll meet along the way. Until then, she embraces discipline and toil, accepting that she might be over 150 years old before you even get up the courage to sign up for singing lessons. Keep chipping away at your 10,000 hours, turty girl!
This Sea Turtle
The possibilities for this sea turtle lumbering inefficiently toward the ocean are as boundless as the sky. Her desire to live a long life without getting hit by a speedboat may seem overwhelming, but a journey of 25,000 miles starts with a single breaststroke, preceded by months of careful army crawling on sand. No impulsiveness here! This pragmatic sailor is ready to work systematically toward her goal, even if she knows she’ll be significantly closer to death when she reaches it, just like you when you make your final breakthrough in therapy. Trust the process!
This Adventurous Yet Conflicted Turtle
This Western pond turtle looking bravely into the horizon shares your indecision over whether you should see the world or start putting down roots, especially because he carries his house on his back. Should he adventure first and settle down later, or vice versa? Also, warm sun feel good on back and good stump feel good on feet—is this not just like how you can’t decide if you should go back to grad school or just stick to professional development classes?! Whatever this turtle chooses, he knows life is a series of small steps that add up, and that delayed gratification can lead to a rewarding old age. Bear this in mind while you wait for your industry to realize how disruptive you are.
These Copulating Galapagos Tortoises
These old-timers are aware that leisurely, romantic sex within the context of a long-term relationship is something you grow into over time. You can’t hurry true intimacy! Hans and Ingrid have found that small, appreciative actions and shared values built on a foundation of trust and sexual compatibility are the way to go. They don’t quite know what people are, but if they did, we’re sure they’d be concerned that you’re using Tinder as a way to distract yourself from deeper intimacy issues. Don’t give up on orgasms that last for days, love that lasts for decades, or finding the perfect position when you and your partner both have a hard shell covering your whole body! Have patience—especially with that guy from the whiskey bar date; he was boring but he seemed nice enough.
The Oldest One on Earth
Being around since 1832 has given Jonathan the tortoise a healthy outlook on life. He has lost his fear of looking ancient, and knows that whatever his original goal was, it was just a blip in the history of the Earth. Having seen empires fall, world wars fought and refought, and global resources depleted, Jonathan knows that his personal dream of “eating the goodest grass” may take centuries, even millennia, to realize. Whenever you feel like you’re lagging behind the others, remember that in a thousand years, no one will remember the gap between your expectations and your reality! Just like this fuckin’ turtle.
Keep these wise turtles in mind as you make nearly imperceptible progress on your to-do list and prepare to enjoy the fruits of your labor when they, like you, are fully wrinkled and mature. Slow and steady, ol’ girl! And you just might win the race.