I recently celebrated a big birthday (and, no, I'm not publicly stating the number). As a result of the festivities, I'd dined out all week and consumed far more desserts than absolutely necessary (and, no, I'm not stating that number either). After several such days of overindulgence, however, I found myself at the nearby high school track, attempting to walk off a few of the pounds I'd gained.
That's where I saw my inspiration.
Male or female, I'm not sure (I don't really know my snapping turtles well), but I thought of him as a "he," and I studied him with unfailing fascination as I took my laps on the cushy blacktop surrounding the football field. The track is enclosed by a metal chainlinked fence and successfully keeps out most children and many adults. I happened to find one of the gates unlocked, so I slipped inside. Mr. Turtle was already in there, halfway around the track, up against the fence on the grass. He proved to be the only other living thing (besides a swarm of mosquitoes) that I encountered on my walk. Like me, he was getting his exercise. Unlike me, he clearly wanted to do it elsewhere.
Mr. Turtle kept trying to get out, but that fence created problem after problem for him. His shell was too large for him to slip beneath the chains. His body was too short to boost himself over. His legs were too stubby and lacking in dexterity to click open the gate. It seemed a hopeless business.
But, boy, did he keep at it. I watched him, continually amazed, as he plodded up and then down the linked boundary. After some 17 laps (mine), I could tell he'd inched to within striking distance of his goal (a large gap under one of the locked gates with enough space to allow him to pass beneath it, shell and all). And I could also tell that he didn't realize how near he was to succeeding. He didn't know to make a beeline for the magic spot. He didn't know his struggles would be over the moment he got another few yards down the path. Instead, he kept checking the fence every foot or so, sticking his neck through the chainlinked holes, stretching his chunky body to its fullest in an attempt to reach above his obstacle, taking additional steps forward when this didn't lead to freedom. Trying again, and again, and again.
God, I was so proud of him.
And, even though I didn't get to stay long enough to watch the glorious moment when he made his escape, I had utter faith that he would. Soon. And I appreciated his silent but powerful reminder.