The Tortoise and the Hare Version 2011
Heard of the famous story of The Tortoise and the Hare, in Aesop’s Fables? In the story, the hare scoffed at the slow tortoise and challenged him to a race. The hare soon left the tortoise trailing behind, and being confident of winning, he decided to take a nap. To his horror, he awoke to find his competitor crawling slowly and steadily to the finishing point. Now what if, the story did not end that way? What if the hare did not take that nap, how would the story turn out? Here is my version I tell at our “I Am Gifted” Singapore June Holiday Programme for kids & teenagers…
Welcome to the 2010 “Tortoise and Hare” annual competition. This is the 2600th competition being held since Mr. Hare first challenged Mr. Tortoise to a race. To date, Mr. Hare has won every single race here. Will this year be different? Who will bring home the trophy today? Will it be the reigning champion, Mr Hare, or the hot favourite, Mr Tortoise? Let the race begin!” Following the commentator squirrel’s introduction, the crowd screamed in excitement.
The race was the largest event held in Westwoods, and animals from all over would travel to Westwoods to watch it. As the spectators cheered in anticipation for the commencement of the race, the tortoise and the hare waited at the starting line. The hare, arrogant as usual, wore a smirk on his face as he stood watching the tortoise do his warm-ups, “Why do you even bother to turn up today? Aren’t you tired of going home a loser after the previous 2599 times? Oh well, let me show you how a champion should run!”
Watch me, the tortoise thought, ignoring the hare, and continued with his warm-ups.
Alas, the race was about to begin, and the tortoise and hare took their places. The tortoise took a deep breath and focused on the journey ahead. The hare, wearing the same smirk, stood high and proud, and waved to the roaring crowd. The whistle went off, and the hare took off, not before turning back to laugh at the tortoise. The tortoise just kept his focus and steady pace all the way to the finishing line.
Of course, the hare won, and the tortoise crawled in much later. As the hare was presented with the trophy, the crowd cheered. However, the cheers were overpowered by those made by the tortoise clan. Tortoises, both young and old, surrounded Mr. Tortoise, as they spun him on his shell, and celebrated as if he had won. Perplexed, the commentator squirrel skipped over to the tortoises, and squeezed past the shells, to interview Mr. Tortoise, who was still on his back, “Mr. Tortoise, it is clear that you have lost the race. Then, what is the reason for this exaggerated celebration?”
The tortoise flipped himself over clumsily and flashed a grin at the squirrel. “Whoever said that I have lost?” With that, he tilted his shell towards the bewildered squirrel, “See these markings?” Indeed, the edge of his shell was lined with markings that the squirrel could not make out. Some looked fresh, and the others looked age-old. The tortoise continued, “These are the records of the time taken for me to complete every race that I have participated in. My first race took me 15 hours and 51 minutes. Thereafter, I set a goal to improve my timing every year. The race last year took me 2 hour and 25 minutes to complete and my goal for this race is to hit below 2 hours. I know you may think that it seems like a crazy target for a tortoise like me, but… I did it!” As he completed his sentence, a young tortoise standing next to him raised a stopwatch that read 01:59:05. Mr. Tortoise then looked at the squirrel and spoke with a firmer tone, “I never saw this as a race against the hare. This is a race against myself, to improve and be better than where I was before…”
The Tortoise and the Hare story has been passed down for thousands of years, with learning points like, being ‘slow and steady wins the race’, and how not to be complacent. However, realistically, the tortoise can never be faster than the hare. And I believe that we are both the tortoise and the hare in different aspects of our life. Sometimes, we see ourselves as the tortoise, in areas where we feel we are inadequate in; other times, we see ourselves as the hare, being confident and good at the things we do.
Very frequently, we are afraid of being the tortoise in the exams, where our friends are the hares running far away from us, and we ultimately lose out in terms of grades. The fears of not doing as well as our friends, not getting good grades, thus disappointing our parents, begin to haunt us. Perhaps, sometimes we may not do as well as our friends, but does that mean that we did not win the race? Maybe, like the tortoise, the race is just us against ourselves. We are, after all, our toughest opponent.
David Andrews - About the Author:
Andrea Chan is a children motivational trainer in Singapore who helps conduct the “I Am Gifted” – Singapore’s Best Enrichment Camp by the Adam Khoo Learning Technologies Group. She loves working with children & teenagers, and uses are strange blend of stories, examples, games and cutting edge study strategies in her June Holiday Camp in Singapore to give students the edge to succeed in their A level and O level exams.