a couple of weeks ago jon saw this painted turtle crawling around in the garden. am not sure what it was looking for so far away from any body of water. maybe the fact that i’ve been irrigating it in the midst of the drought here. i don’t know. but he brought it up near the house to get a closer look at it. and i wanted to get some pics of it. a series of pics where it was retreated safely into it’s shell, and then moving back out and crawling away. but as long as i waited, it would not venture out far at all. the counselor was looking for metaphor in one of the classic views of the “shell” of self-protection. and most of what i got was just that; self protection. this big guy [or little girl] wasn’t going to venture out as long as i was anywhere close.

lily, our curious cat, came close and tried to get it to come out and play. again, not much interest in venturing out. cautious. timid. scared. maybe all of those things… whatever it was, this turtle wasn’t going to risk sticking it’s neck out very far. and any sort of movement away wasn’t happening either, as it’s legs remained tucked almost completely inside it’s shell. [i realize that i am anthropomorphizing here…attributing human traits to non-human beings such as cats and turtles…]

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willard & locy, in their book veneer say, “once bitten by loss or betrayal or failure, we shy from engaging too deeply in relationships or new endeavors. each time life strikes us with a heavy blow, we back off a bit…” and i would say, that even if our loss or betrayal or failure does not feel all that dramatic, mere hints of it at times can cause us to back off a bit. to shy away from something. to disengage or not engage to a deep degree. anne lamott writes of “..keeping one’s heart open in the presence of suffering.”

suffering is a three-syllable word with so many things attached to it. some people act like they’re suffering all the time. others, scandanavians mostly, are always “fine” and seem to never suffer, even if they’re bleeding all over the place. fact is, we all suffer to some degree at some time or another. and one of the most natural responses is to close our hearts. to shut down. protect from further pain, whatever that pain is we’re feeling.

i’ve been in a shell for a time. and for whatever reason[s], i’ve just kept things to myself more than usual. lots on my mind. lots to do. and when that is going on, it feels like i don’t live very deeply. i skim the surface and jump from one thing to the next. whatever screams loudest for my attention. and life feels a little less than abundant in that way. i’ve been a turtle of sorts, and perhaps its time…


~ by fourfeetsixinches on September 10, 2012.

14 Responses to “venturing”

  1. Very well spoken and described. Not sure I can say I am ready to “venture out” from the safety of my shell, but wish you success as you contemplate that step.

  2. Enjoy the scenery on the journey. My painted turtle bit the dog and walked across the yard with his head held high.

  3. Scott – there you go again, being all wise and profound and stuff. Great stuff. Told you once – will tell you again – I’LL READ YOUR BOOK. Ok – I’ll wait till you finish and get it published. Hope it has pictures in it too then. All my best to you and your family.

  4. love love love this.

  5. whoa!!! love this post…maybe cause i can so relate to it…thanks for thinking my thoughts, scary i know 😉

  6. Remindsme of a poster I saw back in 1982……”Life is like a turtle, you won’t make any progress unless you stick your neck out.”

  7. nice…it is time. And, I would like more information on the Dr. Scholl’s PRO!!

  8. So very happy to read these words again. Necks ,well they come in all shapes and sizes,don’t ya know….But seriously what a predicament for the turtle,looking for water and coming face to face with a whiskered cat!!! I guess searching for solace and suffering are like that.

  9. I love the pictures of the turtle & kitty. Sometimes It’s easier being a turtle……but then sometimes it feels good to just “stick your neck out” & say what you think. Depends on the day & time.

  10. So very true! Scott, you have such a way with words and pictures. Love it. Thanks for putting feelings in writing.

  11. Words of wisdom…once again! Your blog would make a great book!

  12. So love reading your insightful thoughts, along with viewing your photograghs! I can relate too, in finding comfort by staying inside my shell. Those days seem to come when life gets so crazy busy! Some days you just need to stay tucked in! Come on out when you’re ready! We will welcome you with open arms! Thank you for sharing your thoughts Scott!

  13. 🙂

  14. This is so true, Scott. I think we all react this way to suffering, especially if it was unexpected. Or it’s gone on so long it’s hard to stay resilient. I love the way you find something ordinary and write something that touches all of us to our deepest core.

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