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Once upon a time, on a planet galaxies from Earth, there was a big important race, and a champion that emerged. This is the story of the two that lost, and one who came in first. The race between a mermaid, a turtle and an octopus.
It started in this planet, a fish bowl full of Martian fish. A place of sea and oceans, where countless fish would coexist. One day, a space craft landed in the deepest of its ocean floors. A crowd began to gather as it opened up its' metal doors. A six-armed, three-eyed mermaid came out, munching oysters as desserts. As far as showing off, the mermaid was by far, the worst.
"I bet you've never seen a craft like mine?" she said with arrogance. "I won it at a race last night, along with twenty crystal gems. I guess it comes as no surprise. I've beaten all i've gone against. You see these arms? My grandfather and grandmother were aliens." Dolphin blood is in my genes, I have over one hundred wins. Who wants to race? I'll beat you all, no matter what number of fins."
"None of you have what it takes to beat me in a race i bet. I'm the fastest and the greatest swimmer you have ever met. I 'll beat any one of you. No matter the time or place. We can race here in these waters or with crafts in outer space. "
Everyone kept looking at her. Some just stared and rolled their eyes. Soon she started pointing fingers and began to criticize. "Turtle," she said, "what an ugly shell, I bet it slows you down. It must weight one thousand pounds. Getting angry? Why the frown?"
"What about that octopus? Why so many tentacles? I don't know how any one can even swim around in those. They're so slimy, and so sticky, plus they look a little gross. You think you got what it takes? I'll race either one, or both." Both the turtle and the octopus looked at each other, thought about it, nodded yes, and then the crowd began to gather. Instantly the word was spread. The race was hyped and glorified. They headed for the starting line-a racing course, a mile wide.
The octopus already had a strategy inside his mind. At first, he'd swim as fast as he could, then, pretend to fall behind. Once the mermaid left, he'd take a shortcut through the leaves and vines. Then he'd trick them both by switching the directions of the signs. Perhaps this was a little underhanded in his part, but being fair was not his game, his game was playing smart.
The turtle planned to just go slow and steady the entire way. Hoping if he kept a constant speed, his plan would surely pay. He knew that when the mermaid swam, she often took a little break, and all the dangers in the shortcuts that the octopus would take. This was the only way he knew, the only way he could. He could've tried a different way, but this was just as good.
Minutes later at the starting line, the spectators had gathered. Rather than commence the race with class, the mermaid laughed and bantered. She harassed the turtle and the octopus, then pointed after. Watching them compete was just a joke that caused her laughter. After every single joke, she, and only she, would laugh. The mermaid made a promise that the winner gets to keep her craft. "Just don't get excited," she said, "I have never, ever lost. Never have I came in last, never will, and never have."
The race was just seconds away. They took their marks and stretched their necks. The countdown went from three to one. You won't believe what happened next. The mermaid, in a cloud of dust, just took off like a speeding jet. Like every other race before, she'd always try to get ahead.
For the first few seconds, the octopus was on her tail, till the dust began to pick up and he couldn't see the trail. He couldn't tell which way to go, however, he continued swimming. Soon his tentacles ran out of strength and he had trouble breathing. His poor lungs couldn't handle it, so he was forced to leave the race. Meanwhile, the turtle, still swam at his slow but steady, turtle pace.
The mermaid turned around and said, "One down, another one to go." She started getting cocky. Her confidence began to grow. Five minutes later, half a mile away, she stopped to take a break. She figured if the turtle passed, she would see him anyway.
She rested on a bed of sponges, snapped her fingers, stretched her tail, got a little comfortable, and then began to comb her hair. "I knew that octopus would choke. That turtle's nothing but a joke. He'll never beat me, that I know. My arms are built to swim and row. They really think they can outswim me? I'm too fast, and they're too slow. I'll always be the best, and that's just how it's gonna go."
A golden harp was on the floor, just inches from where she was laying. So she took it, put it in her arms, sat down and started playing. Apparently this was the only time of day she stopped complaining. Soon, her eyelids started drooping down, her body started waning. After only minutes playing melodies, she started yawning. Shortly after, she had put herself to sleep and started snoring.
As she slept, she dreamt she'd crossed the finish line and won the race. Everyone around her, loved her. She was honored and embraced. They all laughed at the octopus as tears ran down his saddened face. Meanwhile, they mocked the turtle just for finishing in second place.
They carried her, paraded her, and built a statue just like her. Then granted her a gold metal and named her "Swimmer of the year". The turtle and the octopus were banned and forced to disappear. As they left with their belongings, everyone around them cheered. It seemed so real and wonderful, she even smiled as she slept. In her mind, it was by far, the greatest dream she'd ever dreamt.
The cheering and the screaming of her fans was so amazing. In her dream, she had become the greatest when it came to racing. Suddenly, no longer did they cheer for her, but for the turtle. She knew that this was just a dream, still, the cheers kept getting louder. It got so loud, that she awoke and saw the turtle swimming. He headed for the finish line, seconds away from winning.
The mermaid just could not believe it. For a moment, time just froze, but she started swimming quickly as he reached the finish post. Never had she swam so fast. She got really, really close. But in the end, the turtle came in first. He won by just a nose. Most were shocked to see a turtle beat a mermaid in a race. He was carried on their shoulders. There were parties and parades. The mermaid kept her word, gave him the craft, then asked him how he beat her. "Slow and steady wins the race," the turtle said. "Sometimes it's better."
From that day forth, the mermaid never bragged or criticized again. The octopus is somewhere out there, he'll be scheming till the end. On the other hand, the turtle felt he was reborn again. Once he got the mermaids' craft, it was just the start for him. He's gone around the universe and raced a billion times since then. Random corn fields found on random planets mark his every win. You might see his flying saucers. Some of them are made of tin. Ten of them are made of metal, two were crafted by a friend. So when you see him flying by, go ahead and wave goodbye. He might have won another race, like always, at a steady pace.
Sound familiar? We all remember that story about the tortoise that beats the hare. It's a childhood classic. When I think about that story, I think about going fast v.s pacing yourself, or playing it smart. How often do we make that decision? All the time.
If you think about it sometimes we're kind of like the hare, where we think we're so far ahead of our competition, deadlines or whatever, that we start slacking off. Then we fall behind and before we know it, we didn't do what we were supposed to do or someone else beats us to it. Other times we're like the tortoise where we say, "well i'll just be slow but safe. I don't wanna screw things up."
So in this story the mermaid takes the place of the hare. The turtle is the tortoise and this new character the octopus is the sneaky one. There's always someone that thinks they cut corners or take shortcuts, but what happens when the waitress tries to balance one too many plates? You end up with ketchup on your shirt and spaghetti on top of your head.
You just gotta try things your way. With time you'll learn not to make the same mistakes or keep doing the same thing you're doing because it works. __________________________________________________
An extra thought
Dolphins are believed by some to be descendants of mermaids that came from a water-filled fish-bowl-like planet far, far away. Ancient wall carvings from around the world suggest their planets' water supply got polluted so they came down to Earth where there were plenty of oceans. They encountered a tribe of primitive humans somewhere in Africa and taught them secrets of the universe which helped in their evolution. Skeletal and mummified remains of these mermaid-like aliens have been discovered in some parts of the world. Is any of this real? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll find out.