Turtles go mostly unnoticed.
They aren’t gorgeous or dramatic or cuddly. Still, they win the race against the hotshot rabbit who peers back and, assuming he’s won, naps with victory assured. The turtle trods along with eyes on the sunny horizon. Step by faithful step. Persistence, whatever the speed, wins.
We persist, too. Whatever the ambition. Whatever the day.
Cliff, “Travel is what I do,” drove to North Carolina twice, visited a Kansas City cousin, and hiked in the Shenandoah. Decades ago he vowed, if he were still alive, to attend his 50th high school reunion in Oklahoma City. He made it, enjoying all the events from a horse-racing track to Petroleum Club dinner. He rallied with The Corsairs, the school’s first male cheer squad that chanted from the stands during athletic events. Here in Ohio, he planted new crops, only to lose most of them to an extended family of rabbits. His standard strawberries, squash, and tomatoes survived. (Yes, rabbits ate my flowers, too.) Researching fences and repellents overtook his days, until he watched a precious bunny nibble away. Cliff surrendered. He re-planted spinach because, well, everyone needs lunch after all. Only 8 spinach leaves ever made it into our salad.
Next spring he’ll try again, row by row.
After graduating from the College of Wooster with a sociology degree, Maggie returned home to continue the job search. Interviews took her to Cleveland and Memphis, but she accepted a fellowship in August with Repair the World, a non-profit with nine locations across America. She chose their food justice division, primarily working with award-winning Gleaners Community Food Bank who distributed 43 million pounds of food last year. Her favorite activity is the mobile grocery program. She sets up shop in 18 senior apartment complexes and provides fresh, affordable produce for those with limited budgets and access to grocery stores. She gratefully acknowledges a population still on its own and easily forgotten by society. When Maggie was 10 years old, a former student of mine spent a few hours with her and said she embodied the “repair the world” ideal. Indeed, she does. Patron by patron.
In these annual letters, I have continued to write No book sale this year. On the verge of giving up this summer, I made an unlikely discovery. A tiny plant grew from the sandstone foundation of our house. Behind the hotshot hydrangeas, it was easily overlooked. Nevertheless, it faced the odds, and reached for any beam of sunshine until it broke through the mortar. Inspired, I returned to my desk and tried once more.
And it worked.
I sold a picture book biography. The editor prefers to make the official announcement in Publisher’s Weekly once the illustrator is secured, but it’s in process. Then out of nowhere, an agent showed interest in my writing. We’ve spoken twice about revisions for a picture book inspired by our rescue dog Maria. Perhaps it seems like the agent and I could perfect 500 words quickly, but you’d be surprised. I continue word by word.
Speed is not the answer. For most things.
So I hope you’ll turtle along with us in 2020. Find that thing that matters most.
That thing you constantly wish for as you blow out birthday candles.
That thing will never land magically in your hands.
You have to keep walking toward it. Step by step.
You don’t have to be a hotshot to win.