Swimming With Turtles

In an absence of a future and in the stillness of the now my mind has been unearthing old memories…really old.  When I was very little, four, I had a pet turtle. We were both little, seems to me he could sit in the palm of my hand. I hadn’t thought of him…or was it a her?…since he wandered off into the garden one day.  I loved that turtle, and somehow I knew he loved me back.  We had a dog…small wonder she didn’t eat Turtle, that was his name. I loved our chocolate lab, Chessie who could play and run and patiently lie at my feet as my four year old self pretended to read to her from my picture books…but Turtle was just there. It was enough, he was enough, I was enough.
The memory prompted a google search which revealed qualities affiliated with these noble creatures such as patience, longevity, wisdom, fertility, persistence.  Dr. Google also pointed out that while slow on land, turtles are agile in water and if you’re inclined toward the symbolic…expert, experienced travelers through the subconscious.  
This could well be defined as a turtle chapter for many of us, after all who better to consult on sheltering in place?  Every once in a while as I shelter I dare to turtle swim through underwater imaginings and envision what the new normal will be when we emerge from this pause and isolation. Depending on the day I’m either buoyed with the discoveries or find myself thrashing through currents of a full on downward dive.  The buoyant version has us all living at a more realistic pace, being kinder to the planet, cherishing what matters and practicing with far greater fluency the better qualities of resilience and compassion. On the downward dive days I fear for my son and his generation’s future, I fear for our nation, I fear for the live arts and the crucial balm it’s connective tissue dispenses. Fortunately a lilac bud about to burst open in my garden or one of the dog’s delight in the moment reminds me that the spiral is mere conjecture and a more immediate sense of self-sustaining life that is good, comes to the rescue. 
Another memory surfaces. A penchant of Dad’s when my sister and I were little was to take us on road trips. When we’d invariably get lost it would never be too long before one in our family declared, “Here we are in this place!” My sister and I would peel with laughter from the back seat…though it was a statement of the painfully obvious it was strangely comforting, grounding. We may not have known where it was but we were somewhere. We were there.
Not that it’s a laughing matter but that’s sort of what it feels like now midst quarantine retraction. We don’t really know where we are but wherever it is, it’s not where we were nor do we have a clear sense of what the road to our destination will be like nor in this case, what the destination will look like when we get there. 
Apparently the assignment du jour besides sheltering in place and washing our hands is to make do with what we have, to sort thoughts and belongings, to support and work to the extent we can and to the extent our life circumstances demand. No small task. It calls on us to be patient, persistent and wise. I look forward to seeing and hugging as many of you as I can in the new normal. In the meanwhile, may the spirit of the turtle be with you. 

4 thoughts on “Swimming With Turtles

  1. The noble, amphibious turtle . . . such a powerful, iconic symbol, known for its ability to transition from one kind of place to another. Thanks for the apt musings and I agree, Turtle can help us now. Our turtle was Sam, with splashes of gold paint on his shell, indications of carelessness from some previous human host. He was a wonderful presence for a long while, then one day pushed the mesh off his large enclosure and departed, leaving us with another rich childhood memory. Yes, here we are in this place.


  2. I am here in this place.
    Yesterday a turtle was spotted crossing the street in front of my home. I was seated on the front porch cutting my fingernails… Stopping and watching this turtle so ever slowly go about winning its race. A yapping pack of five dogs appeared and basically attacked the turtle that retracted inside the shell for armored protection. The dogs retreated and I walked to the street and lifted the shell to a safe home on my back porch. This morning I found my cat Eleanor curled up with the turtle as if to warm and protect in a safe harbor.
    This afternoon I will deliver the turtle to the Turtle Lady. She has started a refuge where she protects and helps breed new life from their eggs in the sand.
    Here Elon Musk experiments with failed rockets on the beach and the ocean waters spit over 300 dead turtles back on the shore over the days following. What a strange cycle of life and death / attach and retreat / adandon and protect / lies of propaganda and truth for survival / I recalled Salome dancing before Herod wearing her bracelet with the all seeing eye ( an image of pandemic seduction ). This turtle will have a new and safe home and will swim again through the tide as we must do by dancing as Salome before the pandemic.


  3. And what is that “new normal”? It’s such that if the Beatles hit it big now instead of in ’64, their #1 hit would be I Want to Bump Your Fist. And if the Carpenters did likewise instead of in ’70, their #1 hit would be (They Long to Be) Six Feet From You.


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