I’m going to keep this brief because quick and to the point is my style. But for all hares everywhere, I really think it is time I spoke out.
That whole big story about the tortoise and the hare? It’s been grossly misinterpreted. I’m not disputing the facts of the story. Oh, no. The tortoise told the facts just like they happened. He doesn’t have enough imagination to lie about it. It happened just like he said. I got out to a quick start, stopped in the shade to take a nap, and slept right through his passing me by and winning the race.
I won’t deny that it was a little embarrassing to lose to a turtle, but I’m pretty much over that. What gets to me is the moral everyone keeps passing along. Plodding wins the race? Seriously? That’s what you want children to remember? What kind of society are you people trying to create? A society of boring little plodders? I don’t say that to belittle tortoises. Seriously, I don’t. If plodding is what you do well, good for you. You probably really will win most races with your steady persistence. But you’ll forgive me if I’m not teaching young hares to imitate you.
I’ll be telling them the true moral of the story. I’ll tell them that nothing, not even winning, feels better than running so fast that your ears fly back. I’ll tell them that being a hare means watching the world fly by and the ground disappear under your powerful hind legs. I’ll tell them that the joy of that kind of speed is exhausting, and they shouldn’t be afraid to rest when they need to. I’ll tell them that if they run fast enough, they’ll have time to take a nap and still finish the race. They may come in second, but they’ll be so rested that they’ll be ready for the next race as soon as they cross the finish line.
Most importantly, I’ll tell them that when you are the best at something, you don’t need to prove it to anyone else. Because that’s what I learned that day, not that I shouldn’t have stopped for a nap, but that I shouldn’t have issued that ridiculous challenge in the first place. I was showing off, plain and simple, hoping to win their respect and admiration. But would those things have made my legs stronger to escape the prowling tiger? Would they have made the thrill of running at heart-bursting speed any more thrilling?
Excellence is its own reward. Tell that to your children when you tell them my story. That will be a lesson well worth learning.