Back in October, we went on a lovely family vacation to Hilton Head, South Carolina. My darling son, Daniel, participated in a tennis tournament, and all of us basked in the warmth and beauty of the South Carolina coast. On two occasions we went to a local petting zoo. I had far more fun there than I expected. Daniel and I were drawn to this fine spotted creature also basking in the warmth of the South Carolina coast.
Soon after discovering that she was being watched, the turtle decided to head back to its hiding place. One of the finest moments of that week-long getaway, actually it was a series of fine moments, was watching this solitary turtle make what we thought was an epic journey through her tiny enclosure.
She squeezed her curvaceous form between the fence on the right and that first row of tiny bamboo-like stalks. Once she made it through there, I ran around to the back of the fence and continued to track her progress.
Over the dusty path, between leaves and bushes and small trees, she never stopped moving. She pulled herself and her well-proportioned frame over roots and rocks and branches.
Did I mention that she was a determined little thing? Check out that neck extension and those powerful legs.
After rounding one particular curve, she slid off the edge of the path and splashed into a shallow pond. Undeterred, she swam across and began to extract herself from the drink.
A woman on the move is a force not easily stopped.
Under the branches and stalks on the other side of the pond from where she began, this newly discovered hero of mine began to push her way into the brush under which we had seen her resting earlier in our visit.
Once again, she spotted my eager face staring down at her, so she turned her back to me and stood still. I think she was waiting for me to leave so she could reenter her boudoir without being observed.
I know I tend to overthink these things and make epic adventures with moral imperatives out of the tiniest stories of the tiniest creatures doing what they do everyday. But the truth is that this is the story of my life: this tiny creature doing what I do, living out tiny stories and turning them into epic adventures with deep moral truths. Or so I'd like to believe. Here I go again...
This year, 2010, is drawing to a close. An epic year of homeschooling and cooking and folding laundry and watching tennis and going to doctors' visits and journal making and cardio funk and new televisions and a new computer and more lines on my face and fewer dollars in the bank. It was a year of letting go of certain relationships and delving deeper into others. It was a year of relearning to ride a bike and lift weights and trust my own heart. It was a year of letting go of my old understanding of what "church" is supposed to be and holding onto my faith with far gentler hands. As this year draws to a close, I am certain of fewer things, confident in fewer friends, but far more comfortable with myself.
I started this year in this same room at this same desk thinking many of the same thoughts and hoping for many of the same miracles. But the journey back here to this desk has been fraught with slips and slides, cuts and bruises, unexpected mud puddles and blazing sunlight, tremendous highs and horrendous lows. I've been called names I hope to soon forget and let in on secrets I hope to never forget. I've been closely watched and I've been flatly ignored. I've been called upon and I've been hung up on. I've been coldly rejected and I've been warmly welcomed. I've taught many classes and I've learned many lessons.
Two nights ago, my therapist told me that I seem sadder and more mature.
He said I've come a long way this year, but I still seem to be hurting deep inside.
My eyes welled up with tears, and my heart welled up with emotion -
both joy and sorrow, hope and despair, pride and chagrin.
With my voice quivering, I asked him, "Isn't that what life is like for everybody?"
In just over 30 hours, a new year will begin.
Another journey of 365 days.
Beginning with another hopeful and determined turtle.
With her home on her back and her heart in her throat.
Here I go again.