The Tortoise and the Hare: Revisited

The other day, I was reading this old post on AJATT. In it, he argues that in the old fable of to tortoise and the hare the personalities are backwards. As I started to read, I realized he was right. This quote, in particular struck me: “In real life, human “tortoises” are laid-back, nonchalant, happy. Meanwhile, human “hares” are destructively disciplinarian, destructively obsessive, and destructively obsessed with quick results.”

You see, as much as I try to be a tortoise I’m often guilty of being a hare. I push myself to do more than is healthy and end up wearing myself out then going through a phase of not doing much at all. I realize this is self-destructive, but I always want things finished as quickly as possible. Of course, then they never get finished at all.

There are, certainly, times when a hare mentality is good. However, this only applies to short term goals, and even then going too fast can lead to sloppiness and reduced efficiency. It’s never a good idea for long term goals, which are the types of goals I gravitate towards.

So as I was reading that post an idea started to form in my mind to rewrite the tortoise and the hare with their proper personalities, and here it is. Hopefully it explains a little bit why I’m happy with my decision to postpone my trip, and why once I’m on my trip I’ll be trying to worry less about schedules and more about just getting somewhere(except in the schengen area, that place is the bane of my existence and will only grow until I reach it). I’ll be attempting to apply this mentality not only to training and saving up money for my trip, but also to developing some skills that I’m hoping will help me earn a little extra money as I go and to my language learning, a long time hobby that I’ve been neglecting due to the original short time frame for this trip.

Without further ado, I give you the rewritten fable of the tortoise and the hare:


One day a hare was bragging about how fast he could run. He bragged and bragged and even laughed at the tortoise, who was so slow. The tortoise stretched out his long neck and challenged the hare to a race, which, of course, made the hare laugh.

“My, my, what a joke!” thought the hare.
“A race, indeed, a race. Oh! what fun! My, my! a race, of course, Mr. Tortoise, we shall race!” said the hare, “there is a charity event next weekend; we shall race then and see who finishes first!”

The forest animals met and mapped out the course, a tremendous course fifty kilometers long. The race began, and the hare, being such a swift runner, soon left the tortoise far behind. About halfway through the course, the hare began to grow tired. He found himself slowing, and soon was crawling along at walking pace It was quite a long ways indeed, but the tortoise was still far behind, so it occurred to the hare that he could take a quick nap and still beat the slow trodden tortoise by far.

Meanwhile, the tortoise continued to plod along, slowly but surely, taking the time to enjoy himself along the way. Sometimes he he would rest for a few minutes to admire a flower or a bird which had caught his eye, but he was always quick to resume his course with renewed energy. In this manner, he found himself passing the still-sleeping hare, and soon was far in the lead.

The hare finally woke from his nap. “Time to get going,” he thought. And off he went faster than he had ever run before! Alas, poor hare! Still not recovered from his first attempt, he found himself tiring once more with still a quarter of the race to go. Eight kilometers from the finish line, he could once again go no further. “This time I shall only take a short nap,” he promised himself, determined to beat the tortoise.

The tortoise had seen the hare pass him by once again, but he continued his slow, steady progress. He even took fifteen minutes to play in the meadow, for he was starting to get a bit worn out as well. Still, he wasn’t worried about losing. Sure enough, he soon passed the hare once again.

Some time later, the hare woke up, finding he had once again overslept. “Surely the tortoise is still behind me,” he thought. Off he went once more, pushing himself to his limits until collapsing just past the finish line, where he saw the tortoise chatting with his friends and family, and not tired in the least.

Moral: Tortoises and hares can both finish the race, but slow and steady is better for your health and sanity. Or something like that.


Adapted from this version.

4 Replies to “The Tortoise and the Hare: Revisited”

  1. Rebecca, It was interesting to read your version of the hare and tortoise. It is true that we push ourselves beyond our limits and then crack down.

    • Vaneja, thanks for visiting! Absolutely, and it’s important to know where our limits are because they’re different for everyone!