Slowly slowly like the tortoise

“I don’t want you to burn yourself out”

My new boss says to me, already knowing me well enough that just after two weeks he can tell I start to get ansty when I am stationary…not that I have had time to be idle yet since I’ve been here. I have never been able to tolerate being slow and steady throughout any era of life and sometimes I feel as if I am rushing through to some sort of finish line as my productivity never seems enough for myself, yet too much for others. After two weeks he has already sat me down and told me to chill out, not to rush ahead with my thinking and to immerse myself in the now, really making use of the time I am living in, arguably the most important time of all.

Nature has always rewarded me for rest, for I think you can only truly appreciate nature in a rested state. The birds never stay long when you are moving around, and the rare species always find you when you are lost in thought, sitting on a bench for hours just being still. Never has a butterfly landed on a skittish dog as he ran about frantically, but rather, nature comes when it feels safe and peaceful, which is why a butterfly may land on you when you are standing like a statue. Luckily, nature evokes restful feelings within me, and it is easy to calm myself in a garden full of lovely trees, flowers and ponds as a willing reciprocate for all that will grace me if I still my body and my mind.

Sitting outside on the grass between lectures in my undergrad, I have had a rainbow Lorikeet sit on me as I basked in the sunshine, and another time a Willie Wagtail landed on me while sitting near the beach. Catching butterflies is easy if you hold your hand in the jar still enough for them to climb on to and they stay on longer once the jar is removed, the stiller you stand. Sometimes when nature is present around me in a spectacular way, for instance witnessing basking Ruffed Lemurs above me in the sunshine, I find I am holding my breath without knowing, just in aid of being as still as possible.

In many languages there is the same saying:

“Slowly slowly like the tortoise”

Which I have heard hundreds of times in tricky terrain, forests, rocky ledges and mountain hikes. In nature, it is safer to be slow, it is safer to watch step by step where you are going, noticing what is around you and finding solace in your exact stance.

My boss told me to slow down, but nature has been telling me for years. If you slow down, you will be safe, you will see more and you will experience the wonderful magic of the environment you would have never seen if you ran through disturbing everything around you. Slowly slowly goes the tortoise, and slowly slowly so should I.

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