To fully enjoy the video at the bottom, please read the story.
I recently watched sea turtles hatch on the beach and begin their long journey out to sea.
One of the sea turtles was feisty and determined. Instinct seemed to say “As long as your feet are churning, you’ll make it.” And so it charged across the sand, out to sea, and without a pause.
But the second turtle was lethargic and slow. Perhaps, it was hatched too soon. It seemed to already be exhausted before it arrived to the shoreline. As it stared, aimless, at the sea, a cold and heavy wave suddenly smacked it in the face.
The turtle froze in place.
Shocked by the brutality of the world.
Only one thing crossed my mind:
“It’s not ready. It’s not going to make it.”
But suddenly, another wave rolled up and swept it away in the blink of an eye.
Are we ever ready?
The sea turtle is not born just once. It is born through a series of trials. If the egg itself survives, the turtle hatches, only to be faced with it’s first challenge. It finds itself immediately weighed down by the sand it is buried under. Now, it must dig it’s way out of this second shell, until it has broken the surface of the Earth itself.
Nature’s first obstacle.
It now faces a 20 yard crawl to the sea. Disoriented in a brand new world, the turtle must quickly learn to navigate, or it will never make it. With only instinct for guidamce, any bright light can send a turtle scurrying towards an artificial hope- the lights of a nearby hotel or distant town. Distraction can be deadly.
The finish line of this marathon is critical. In front of the turtle is the great race of vulnerability, when flying seagulls and scurrying crabs will be indifferent to its’ plight, seeing only a short snack that luckily crossed their paths.
To make matters worse, the turtle is not equipped for this leg of the journey. Built with fins instead of feet, it is perfectly clumsy. Unable to hide in it’s shell, the baby turtle is exposed, it is the perfect prey.
Small against the world.
If the sea turtle makes it past this gauntlet of land predators, it arrives to a false safety. The ocean. Now it will face a violent sea, with her waves of confusion.
These strange waves swoop it up, only to shove it down, pull it close, then spit it back to the shore. It’s as if her entire message is to say “you’re not ready.”
The turtle will soon discover there is only one way to pass her test. The turtle must be at the mercy of something larger than itself, something it cannot control.
It must learn to gracefully ride out the wave that holds it back, and take the favorable current when it embraces.
But this new world is not the cradle it promises.
The sea is deadly. With a 30 mile swim ahead of it, the turtle must face new terrors in the dark which it cannot imagine. Predators with teeth, and fat humans with fat cast nets to feed fat tourists.
Hunters of the depths, which swim with ease in the currents it struggles against, will all be waiting, lurking where the turtle cannot see. These new predators have fins, teeth, and they breathe under the water, an advantage the turtle does not possess.
The turtle must learn to navigate this endless ocean, still depending on the air above. It left the precarious shore for an even more dangerous sea.
And yet, the turtle keeps going.
The turtle keeps being born, trading one antagonism for another, larger, and more terrifying one. And what happens when the turtle solves one problem for a bigger one?
The turtle grows.
And what happens when the turtle grows?
The sea become home, the currents become a guide, and predators soon avoid its large and impenetrable shell.
After years of work, years of surviving, years of hiding.
The turtle is ready.
Against all odds.
It’s Not Ready
Back to the shore, watching this second turtle gobsmacked by a wave, I expected the second wave to wash it back up to shore, drowned, its journey over before it began.
Because I was sure it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t going to make it.
Instead, I was astonished. When the second wave swept it away, this once lethargic and slow turtle suddenly came to life. It suddenly burst with an energy it didn’t seem to have while crawling toward the sea.
And the last time we saw each other, the once slow and unready turtle was fluttering at full speed across the water. Out to sea.
So maybe that wasn’t a cold, heavy wave that had first smacked it in the face. Maybe it was life reminding us that none of this ever has anything to do with being ready.
Adversity is a law of nature, but so is growth, and neither can happen without the other. You can be distracted by the bright lights, or slammed by the ocean.
You can take this as a test and wake up, or you can get eaten.
We might say this is unfair. Only 1 out of 100 sea turtles will make it to adulthood. But fairness has nothing to do with it either.
Sea turtles have been doing this for 100 million years. And if it makes it, the turtle outlives us all.
Link to the Video
The Journey Continues
Tyler Gooden is the director of the upcoming movie inspired by the true story of FC Start. People told him, especially in the beginning, he "isn't ready" and the project "isn't going to make it."
They were wrong.