Walking around a lake with my puppy, Leela, the other day, I couldn’t help but notice all the creatures on the road: caterpillars, snails, slugs. It had rained the previous evening and through the night, so the ground was still damp; the perfect environment for all the creeping-crawling-sliming things.
Where were they going, I wondered? Crossing the road – to get to the other side? That seemed a Herculean task given their size and the width of the road as well as the time it would take to get there.
How much time would it take them, I wondered? Even more curious, how long do they get to live in optimum conditions that crossing this road this morning is what they've chosen to do? Snails - maybe 2-3 years or more. Caterpillars - I guess it depends on the caterpillar. Slugs – 1 to 5 years.
Maybe that’s enough time to do whatever it is they do, so that moving this slowly across a road is time well spent.
Then, it struck me. They were taking it slow even though their natural lives weren’t more than the blink of an eye for us, because this is what they do: they wait for a good rain; cross the road to get to the other side. That’s it, and here we are, we humans, dashing about, waving our arms, wasting precious time, of which we’ve been given an abundance, and for what?
We are rarely satisfied or fulfilled; rarely happy with ourselves or our lives. There’s always something to improve or change or let go of; always something we’re told we’re lacking so we shop and fill our lives with things. Is that our version of crossing the road? Is that what we’re meant to do, or is there a deeper lesson in the slow, steady path of a snail, caterpillar or slug?
Here’s what I take away from that. Life is short. Take it slow.