birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Turtling

The dot on the side of the road grew larger as I hurtled toward it in my car. Taking my foot off the accelerator, I realized it was a box turtle making its slow way toward the asphalt and headed right into the traffic, which was thankfully sporadic at the moment. I eased past it and pulled off the road, threw the car in park and jumped out of my car to "rescue" it.

As I approached, the turtle drew into its shell...as if its checkered carapace could protect it from me and from the tires that might roll over it once it was in the road. I lifted it carefully and walked it to the other side of the road, setting it down in the grassy slope well past the roadside. It remained still and sequestered in its shell, not moving an obvious muscle to get away from me or to move into the woods beyond. I should leave it to its own path, I thought, and returned to my car feeling pleased that I had stopped long enough to do a good deed.

But as I drove away I wondered if the other side of the road was the destination it sought. Had I rescued it or simply disoriented the creature from its intended path? Would it make a slow turn back toward the road or keep moving toward relative safety?

I also thought about how easily I could have sped past--and worse, over--it, focused as I was on my intended destination, which I had been rushing toward in my usual state of tardiness and agitation. I thought about how I, too, often retreat into a shell of my own thinking that if I hide from my own reality I will be protected by my own oblivion.

I tend to be in constant motion, an approach I suspect I take toward life so as to not look too hard at what is around me and not think too hard about where I am going. My father often says "It's hard to hit a moving target," and I think I have adopted that attitude out of a sense of fear that if I slow down I might have to examine myself too closely. Fear that my self-worth is tied up in accomplishment and duty to others rather than in being intentional.

I eased my foot off the accelerator again and decided to take my time getting to my destination. I decided to be intent on seeing what is around me rather than in looking ahead to what is in front of me. I want to be both more like and less like that turtle and be focused but not oblivious or retreating from myself.

High Octane Life

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