Friday Fable. Aesop’s “THE TORTOISE AND THE EAGLE”*

Posted by jlubans on October 23, 2015

20151023-turtle_eagle.jpg
Caption: “OK, OK, piece o’cake. Let me go. Let me go-oooo-oo.”

“A Tortoise, discontented with his lowly life, and envious of the birds he saw disporting themselves in the air, begged an Eagle to teach him to fly. The Eagle protested that it was idle for him to try, as nature had not provided him with wings; but the Tortoise pressed him with entreaties and promises of treasure, insisting that it could only be a question of learning the craft of the air. So at length the Eagle consented to do the best he could for him, and picked him up in his talons. Soaring with him to a great height in the sky he then let him go, and the wretched Tortoise fell headlong and was dashed to pieces on a rock.”

Sometimes, when you think you are ready to “disport” yourself in a top-level job, it’s best you don’t. You may not be ready to fly at that level and it is a kindness, not a cruelty, when someone stops you.
Early in my career, I’d wax impatient with rules about tenure or years of experience. It all felt like thwart and stifle, an excuse to deny my ambition simply because of my age. Looking back, I am glad I did not always get my way and in some instances I regret that I did.
So, you may be willing and able but you may not be ready.
One version of this fable gives the eagle an ulterior motive. He drops the turtle from on high onto a pile of rocks and then dines leisurely and sumptuously on the remains. Someone who facilitates your premature ambition may not be doing so in your best interests.

*Source: AESOP’S FABLES A NEW TRANSLATION BY V. S. VERNON JONES WITH AN INTRODUCTION By G. K. CHESTERTON AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARTHUR RACKHAM (Publisher: London: W. Heinemann; New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1912). Available at Gutenberg.

© John Lubans 2015

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