I spent the last week in Maui soaking up the sun with my best friend and it was fabulous. We ate macadamia nut pancakes, watched seven sunsets, and floated for hours. The best part? Our hotel was near a sea turtle habitat, so we got to go snorkeling at a place called Turtle Cove, and we watched a group of 15 turtles swimming in the surf every day. It wasn’t long before these fascinating creatures became my secondary spirit animal (Celine Dion is always #1). Here are five life lessons I learned from sea turtles…
1. Slow down. The phrase “Slow and steady wins the race” is usually associated with land-dwelling tortoises, but trust me, sea turtles aren’t in any hurry either, and watching them move smoothly through the water is a beautiful reminder to slow down a bit and take things in. We get so focused on the outcome of our actions, it’s easy to ignore the process–let’s take a cue from the turtles and stop constantly rushing around.
2. Roll with the waves. The surf was pretty intense a few of the days we were there, and watching the turtles mingle with giant waves was kind of stressful. The ocean’s so powerful that it seemed inevitable that these calm creatures–even the giant ones–were going to get pummeled into the nearby rocks. Instead, we saw the turtles gracefully angle into the waves, and pop up in the exact same spot. The water just washed over their backs. I’ve dealt with a few major waves in my life lately and felt like I got knocked off my center, so I was incredibly inspired to see the way these turtles handled it: don’t fight the wave, but stay steady and let it flow over you. Whatever waves you’re facing, you’re strong enough to come out the other side.
3. Trust your shell. Obviously a turtle’s shell is its most recognizable characteristic, and they’re beautiful up close–speckled with green and brown and slightly iridescent. Seeing sea turtle shells got me thinking about the (metaphorical) shells we have as humans. My shell is a strong sense of self. Yours might be different. But we all have a source of strength that protects us in tough times–learn to trust it.
4. Don’t forget to come up for air. Even with a busy schedule of eating, swimming, and napping, sea turtles always make time to pop up above the surface to take a breath. If you tend to get bogged down in the details of a problem or a project, do yourself a favor and come up for air.
5. Evolve. But Not Too Much. Sea turtles have been around for over 100 million years–they’re basically living dinosaurs. They’ve evolved to match their surroundings, but they’re actually not that different from their prehistoric ancestors. We should all learn to adapt to our surroundings without altering ourselves completely. Evolve when you need to, but stay true to yourself; after all, it’s the sea turtle way!