When The Tortoise Wins

Day 23 - When The Tortoise Wins - #doodlewashMay2018 Doodlewash

For today’s art challenge prompt of turtles, I actually landed on a tortoise instead, which by distinction is a land dweller and not one that lives in the water. This was mostly because my mother recently retold a story of when I was in kindergarten and was cast as the tortoise in our thrilling grade school stage adaptation of the Aesop Fable, The Tortoise And The Hare. In this story, a hare taunts a poor tortoise because he moves so slowly, bragging about his superior speed and then challenges the tortoise to a race. As the race begins, the hare shoots forth like a rocket and leaves the poor tortoise behind. The hare then decides to take a nap while waiting for the tortoise to catch up, but wakes up too late and the tortoise wins the race. I think a fox was also the judge, but he didn’t really have a very big part. Apparently, according to my mother, at the end of my transcendent performance as the turtle, I removed my paper crown given to me by the other woodland creatures and took a huge and dramatic bow. I was the only child on stage who did so. For some reason this has always delighted my mother and has become one of her favorite memories of me as a kid.

I told my mother later that we were all instructed to do so, but none of the other kids did. I can only imagine her watching her overly dramatic child taking a gigantic bow alone. But, I was simply doing as I was told back then. It would be years before I became a bit of a rebel. And looking back, I did actually win that race, so it was more than justified. Yet, it’s the story itself that has stuck with me until this day. The idea that a race can be won with slow determination and not always by those who are the swiftest. I’ve never been swift or particularly athletic, and growing up, I always identified with that tortoise. Though I have a perfectly impulsive nature, when it comes to actually doing things, after I rush in, I tend approach it all in, shall we say, a very laid back style. This has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and learned that the swiftest often don’t win the race. So, there’s little point in getting worked up over anything at all. It’s way more fun to just keep taking measured steps forward and see where the road truly leads.

This is definitely the approach that I take to sketching and painting. I just started slowly walking toward a finish line that I still can’t quite see. My goal has been the same each and every day – just show up and sketch. Yet, it’s also become my philosophy on life – just show up and live. So, I try to experience each little moment that passes without bothering to rush on to the next before taking a bit of time to enjoy it properly. Those little moments that seem like nothing at all can fill me with such hope and a sense of potential. Great things will definitely happen in time. In the meantime, I enjoy all the good things that make life so beautifully livable each and every day. Slowly, but surely, all things will work out as they should. And I’ll take my time for now, to let each tiny thing in my life have its moment in the spotlight. Like enjoying a retold memory of the littlest version of me, taking a ridiculously huge and glorious bow, when the tortoise wins.

About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue, (my Da Vinci Trio, Click Here to Learn More!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
 Day 23 - When The Tortoise Wins - #doodlewashMay2018 Doodlewash

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Laura M Bailey 4 years ago


  2. Sandra Strait 4 years ago

    Your tortoise is wonderful, and so is your story. I can see why your mother remembers that show. It’s the moments like that that stand out.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, those little moments always end up winning out over all the others!

  3. Pamela Smith 4 years ago


  4. Sharon Nolfi 4 years ago

    Wonderful painting of the tortoise! Great memory, too.

  5. krcc 4 years ago

    Love the colorful detail.

  6. Lisa 4 years ago

    I love your tortoise! I am a big turtle fan, and would have one as a pet if I didn’t feel it was cruel to do so.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Yeah, tortoises are the best! But I agree…I’m happy admiring them in their natural habitat.

  7. SnehLata Maheshwari 4 years ago

    Amazing Tortoise.

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 years ago

    Terrific portrait of the tortoise plodding forward, Charlie, accompanied by another wonderful story. Take another bow, and this time, leave your crown on.

    BTW, when I was a kid, I couldn’t pronounce the word “crayon.” It always came out as “crown.” I think I heard it incorrectly.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 So happy you enjoyed this tortoise tale. And your mispronunciation is an adorable story! It’s actually a rather odd word, crayon. I’m now trying to recall how I actually pronounced it at first.

  9. smzang 4 years ago

    “just show up and sketch”

    I have added that quote to my bulletin board. It motivates me, invigorates me
    and makes me smile.

    The sports teams at my alma mater (U of MD) are nicknamed The Terrapins, which
    is sort of a mix between the tortoise and the turtle. (It lives in or near swamps)

    I especially like that you have the stride right on your tortoise.
    Love all the details you captured. I am betting this one took a lot longer than 15 minutes.

    Take a(nother) bow!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Aww thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 hehe… I actually think I should put that on a t-shirt! And yes, this one took closer to 50 minutes and I actually managed to let a few layers dry! hehe

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