When she was little, my daughter Anne loved turtles. She used “turtle girl” as her nickname online. She had a turtle named Swimmy for a pet. She loved reading about turtles. When we went to the beach, I scheduled time for us to work with local turtle patrols, visit aquariums, or watch turtle hatchlings be released into the ocean.
Turtles were her thing.
She’e a teenager now and her interests have broadened, but deep down I think she still has a soft spot for turtles.
So it didn’t surprise me a couple of weeks ago when we were out and about, driving on a long rural road, and I dodged a turtle stopped right in the middle of our lane.
Just like I used to do when Anne was little, I screamed “turtle!” and, just like she did when she was little, she yelled “turn around!”
It was a long stretch of road with rolling hills…visibility was tricky…cars were flying by…no flat shoulder and few places to turn around. When I finally turned to go back for the turtle, someone came up speeding behind me so I couldn’t pull over. So, we found a place to turn around again, and tried again.
I had my hazard lights on so people knew I was up to something. Pulled over on a soft grassy spot, then she gave a quick look and jumped out of the car. She ran full force probably seventy-five yards back and got the little guy. She picked him up gently and moved him across the road in the direction he was going, just like we learned about when she was little. She placed him down right by a small pond near the side of the road. And off he went. Safe for the moment. And then off we went toward our destination, feeling like we helped the world in some small way.
At least five cars passed over him while we were making that multi-step turn around. Who knows how many more had flown past him, over him, as he slowly made his way across the lanes toward his goal.
All this made me wonder about how many people I know, who I see daily, who are trying to cross their own treacherous lanes in life. How many people do I know who are moving toward goals but keep dodging obstacles, negativity, or just the rushing flow of the daily grind? How many are in periods where things in life are flying by, in different directions, leaving them pulled into their shells much of the time?
Do I even notice them? Or am I just speeding by, consumed with my own tasks and concerns, not even seeing those who I could help along if I just slowed down and took time to pay attention?
And how can I lift them up, shoulder their burden, ease their journey somehow? How can I put my lights on so people know I am slowing down, wanting to help, up to something?
These are the questions that are on my mind this morning. It doesn’t take that much to help someone across a scary patch. I just need to pay more attention, be willing to slow down. Be more open and attentive. Work to see the potholes and rough patches others might be crossing. Sharing my own bumps and tumbles so they feel safe sharing their own.
What good is it to make it to my destination more quickly, if I have passed over others I could have helped along the way?