From Snail: Slower is Stronger

I left last week’s acupuncture session feeling like I was on Cloud Nine (a typical post-acupuncture disposition). But then I remembered all the things I had to do to get ready for a friend’s graduation party that evening, and I started to descend from euphoria.

As I briskly made my way out of the complex, a nickel-sized black and yellow striped snail shell caught my eye. It’s not something I expected to see in the middle of a central walkway on a cloudy late morning, so my first assumption was that someone had dropped an empty shell.

Upon realizing that it’s also rather unexpected that someone would have been carrying a snail shell into a medical center, let alone have lost it, I doubled back to take a closer look. Not only was this mysterious shell fully occupied, but the occupying creature suddenly popped its head out and began to stretch forward.


From Snail: Slower is Stronger | Animal Wisdom Blog Post Series from Jill of Ark


I snapped a photo to send to my acupuncturist since we’d just had a conversation about making sure I ease up once I’d gotten through my busy weekend, and this was an uncanny sign of confirmation. Then I aimed to be a good samaritan by relocating the little crawler to a less trafficked location.

Much to my surprise, I could not get it to let go of the hold it had on the cement.

I stopped and stepped back, watching it pull itself intently toward the mulch bed and appreciating how much we were alike in believing that help is only helpful when it’s wanted or requested. “My apologies,” I said to the snail. “Safe travels, and have a lovely day!” I finally returned to my car in the parking lot.

When the clock lit up on my dash after I’d turned the key in the ignition, I descended a few more levels. It was now MUCH later than I thought it was. I had to stop at several stores, deposit a check, make a salad, bake some cookies, clean, get the dogs out, wrap my gift, change my clothes, and be on the road by 4:45 pm.

I took a couple of deep breaths and reminded myself to go one step at a time. After all, I wasn’t going to let myself completely spoil the results of all those needles.

The thought to go home, eat lunch, and give myself a 20-minute break occurred to me (and seemed enticing), but I brushed it off. There was too much I still had to take care of, and it would have been far more efficient and energy-conscious to tackle the rest in one big loop.

Or so I thought…

On my way home from my final errand, I was in an accident. Another driver pulled out right in front of me. My airbag deployed, my groceries went flying, and it was immediately evident that I would definitely not be going anywhere that evening.

After dealing with the police, calling the insurance company, and making a visit to Immediate Care for minor injuries, my thoughts wandered back to the snail.

“Ugh, why didn’t I listen?!?” I thought. But messages of Spirit don’t work that way, at least not in my experience. We aren’t really meant to know the future. We can only choose how we react in the present. And we’re never punished for neglecting to pay attention; we simply might miss something that could be useful.

So, no, the wisdom it had carried for me was not that I needed to drive slower (I wasn’t speeding), or that I needed to physically move slower, or even that I needed to stop trying to jam everything into my schedule that my younger body could handle so capably. The real message was to recognize how, sometimes, slower is stronger.

When we have a lot on our plates, we tend to shift into high-speed mode. We rationalize that the only way to finish a lot in a limited amount of time is to go, go, go. We may move faster, but our energy field, our essence, becomes scattered and depleted–a perfect magnet for chaos.

That snail, though small and extremely slow-moving by nature, was unshakably grounded. Nothing was going to knock it off its path–not a well-meaning human, not predatory stress, and certainly not an erratic driver who failed to yield.

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