One Purim, I woke up as a turtle. To say that I was surprised would be a gross understatement. I had always been a human being when I woke up in the morning. This was the first time I woke up as a turtle.
Now how would you feel if you found yourself transformed into a turtle? I wasn't upset. I always felt that one of the highest priorities in life is to accept the Almighty's will. At times this can be highly challenging. When you expect a specific difficulty you can mentally picture yourself accepting it with inner strength and courage. But in my wildest dreams, I had never imagined that I would be a turtle. I was totally dedicated to pass this test, and focused on accepting my Creator's will.
I moved slowly. I didn't yet have a clear plan where I was heading. All I had was a general goal of using my potential to its fullest.
Although I was moving slowly, I made steady progress. When I was a human, I realized the importance of being grateful for all our gifts. This realization stayed with me. I was extremely grateful for my hard outer shell. This protected me in case anyone would shout, "HURRY UP!!" I would just disappear into my shell. That's what shells are for.
I wanted to make steady progress, but at my own speed. If others weren't satisfied with the rate of my progress, I didn't need to make their reality my reality. Progress is relative. If others would see things from my perspective, they wouldn't be so judgmental.
After my initial surprise, I didn't feel bad about being a turtle. On Judgment Day, I won't be asked why I wasn't tall as a giraffe. That's not the way we turtles are. I won't be asked why I didn't fly as fast as an eagle. We turtles weren't meant to do that. The question I will have to face is, "Were you the very best turtle you could have been?" This question became my mission statement. I kept repeating it to myself over and over again and found it intensely inspiring.
Becoming a turtle after first being a human being had a disadvantage. Regular turtles didn't have anything to compare their present situation. All they knew was what it was like to be a turtle. But having been a human for so long, I had gotten used to it. I could have complained that it's unfair I couldn't continue being human. Why was I chosen to become a turtle? I realized I now had a choice. I could make the best of being a turtle. Or I could waste time whining and complaining. This would not have been the spiritual path. This would not have given me joy. I was totally dedicated to accept the Almighty's will with love and joy. That is why I was making such tremendous progress.
I don't know if anyone who saw me realized what was going through my mind. When I was a human being, I had no idea what the inner workings of a turtle's mind were like. How often have you asked yourself, "I wonder what that turtle is thinking right now?" If you will become more sensitive to a turtle's feelings because of this story, this alone will make sharing it with you worthwhile. You will be more compassionate when you see another turtle. And perhaps this will enable you to be more compassionate towards other animals, and maybe even towards other humans.
I spent each moment being a good turtle. I was doing my best and my self-image was soaring. I was part of God's creation. Nothing could be a greater accomplishment.
My goal was to raise my level from being a good turtle to reaching the fifth and highest level of turtle greatness. I literally zoomed through levels one, two, three, and four. I have to admit that I had not previously used my full potential as a human. If I could do it all over again, I would do a better job.
Then all of a sudden something strange happened. After growing from these challenges, I turned into a powerful majestic lion. I didn't realize this at first, but I happened to see a reflection of myself in a mirror. I was startled. I still considered myself a turtle.
What had happened? I was soon to learn I had experienced The Special Purim Law of Turtles. This law is complex and deserves a lengthy, learned discussion. To say it concisely: "Any turtle that progresses to a fifth level greatness on Purim automatically gets an upgrade to become a lion."
I hadn't known this before. Perhaps if I had known it, fear of success might have slowed my progress. I was just trying to do my best as a turtle. I had no idea that my hard work, my persistence, my total devotion to my goal, would have such a positive outcome.
I began experiencing life on an entirely new level. Seeing the world as a lion gave me a magnificent sense of empowerment. Now I was living on a totally different planet. I had experienced a metamorphosis from a turtle to a lion. Only if you personally experienced this could you know the extent of this change.
Having attained royal status, my entire way of being was upgraded. Everyone treated me with more respect. I was now a regal lion and felt like a king.
I had new opportunities, privileges, and obligations. I had more talents, skills, and knowledge. Naturally, my mission statement had to be upgraded. I would now be asked on Judgment Day, "Were you the very best lion you could have been?" My life goal is to proudly respond with a roaring, "YES!"