At one time in my misspent youth, I collected turtles. Big ones, small ones, other sized ones. Why would I collect turtles, you might ask and that would be appropriate. I’ve asked myself that same question. Why turtles? They’re awkward, slow, and poorly designed.


They are also tenacious beyond belief, and therein lies their charm.

So I collected turtles, turtle boxes, turtle clocks, turtle pins, turtle figurines that had no earthly purpose. Glass, wood, metal, large, small.

And then I stopped. At least twenty years passed without a new turtle darkening my door or taking up residence in my etagere.

A crisis of belief can take many forms. The one most discussed is one’s shaken spiritual belief. My crisis was not spiritual so much as it was a crisis of belief in myself. After several years of working for three to four hours a morning on my writing I hit a wall. What am I doing, I asked myself. I’m expending this energy, enduring this drudgery and for what?

My sense of unease and lack of direction and purpose culminated one January evening. “What am I supposed to be doing at this point in my life,” I cried out in despair. “Give me a sign.”

Feeling somewhat embarrassed by my outburst, I made sure no one had heard me, and put a load of clothes into the washer.

For my birthday a couple of weeks later, my sister sent me a small bronze turtle, about the size of a silver dollar on steroids.

My daughter sent me a tiny turtle family that would fit in a teaspoon.

My sister-in-law gave me a turtle pin with a shell of tiny green glass beads.

There are no doubt other explanations for this sudden wealth of turtles after a twenty-year drought. For me, it was the Universe saying, “Oh, get over it already and get back to work.”

So that was my lesson from the turtles–Don’t quit. Maybe the turtles’ poorly designed tenacity carries a lesson for you as well.

Whatever your dream, it will require hard work and effort over time to achieve it. Malcolm Gladwell, author of OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS, estimates ten thousand hours are necessary to master a craft. One turtle-speed day at a time though, if you don’t give up, you can achieve your goal. It may not look quite like you first envisioned it, but it will happen.



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