Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Prime Directive

This morning I head out for my daily five-mile walk with God. About 3.0 miles in I see a huge turtle walking along a concrete path under a roadway. The path links two sections of the Greenway and Lytle Creek. At this point in my walk I am usually in love with everything, and here is this fat old turtle totally exposed to predators and I am convinced that she (he?) needs my help. My plan is to tap on her shell, and when she withdraws inside, to pick her up and carry her to the water on the side toward which she is walking.

This is my version of a boy scout helping an old lady to cross a street.

This act of pure love for my fellow manifestation of the Divine Mother was met with a vicious turn: the turtle attacked me! This huge mouth opened wide and the turtle lunged at me. True it took her an hour to turn around and do this, but it was shocking nonetheless.

Anyway, I backed off, apologized for the interruption, and walked on by. This was a teaching moment, and the tortoise taught me the difference between Rabbis Hillel and Jesus versions of the Golden Rule.

Hillel taught, “Don’t do unto others what you do not want others to do to you.” Jesus taught, “Do unto others what you would want done unto you.” I assumed that I would like someone to pick me up and move me along my path, and therefore so would my turtle friend. But when I think about it, I wouldn’t like this at all.

Just imagine: you are walking along enjoying the fall foliage (or dying leaves, depending on your mood), and suddenly some giant reaches down, grabs you around the waist, and carries you along dangling in mid-air. Doesn’t sound so good. Yet this is precisely what I wanted to do with the turtle.

Next time I see a turtle ambling along I will just let her be, and if she is attacked by some carnivore along the way and brutally torn to pieces and eaten, I will simply smile and say, “Serves you right for trying to bite me, you reptilian brained moron.”


Raksha said...

Re "Serves you right for trying to bite me, you reptilian-brained moron." I've wanted to say that to a lot of people, mostly right-wingers.

Rabbi Rami said...

Yeah, I get that. I don't think turtles have political parties.

Unknown said...

Depending on the turtle, you're lucky you still have a hand! I watched a young guy try to run a huge turtle off the middle of a fairway on a golf course one afternoon. He had a golf cart and a towel and his idea was that he would get the turtle to bite onto the towel and then pull it with the golf cart. Let's just say the turtle won.

Rabbi Rami said...

I'm contacting Stephen Colbert and asking him to add turtles to his list of things to fear--right next to bears.

Old Lady said...

Pish tosh! We save turtles all the time down here in the sunny south! But only, and only if, they are in eminent danger of becoming one with the asphalt! In order to maintain sufficient fingerage to complete our lives, the DOT has put up Turtle x-ing signs for the snappy beasts!

Unknown said...

This discussion has me laughing and thinking. I think sometimes I react like the turtle when spirit reaches down, picks me up and moves me. I bite, fight, and don't even see that what's happening might be "good" for me.

Indigo Flameworks said...

That is a funny story... I suppose the reptilian braned moron comment says it all. So many times when I've reached out to help another and been snapped at. I'm reading your book "Recovery, The Sacred Art" and this is a good reminder to not try to micro manage every situation...sometimes you just gotta let other creatures follow there own path...even if dangerous