Consider the Invisible Turtle

Consider for a moment the common turtle. Slow, but steady in his focus. He isn't in need for much, nor finds much want outside of his grasp. The turtle is deliberate. He is true. But maybe an argument could be made that he is true because of his defensive capabilities. Don't be fooled here; the turtle's defense is not merely the protection offered by a fortified shell against debris or attacks, but extends to something much more intrinsic. There is security in his retreat. Consider that it's not the shell that shields the turtle, but the capability to withdraw.

I think this is justifiable for the turtle, though. His essence is simply based on growth, reproduction, and sensation (to use Aristotle's delineation). So, it would be foolish to judge his desire to retreat is cowardly or less-than, for his only desires are life and the preservation of said life. Withdrawing in this manner then seems to be a pretty normal occurrence for the common turtle.

But this is not the case with people, or so it would seem. Anytime I withdraw from a given daily event, occurrence, or context, it seems to be met with question or concern, and then perceived as a deficit. But isn't preservation just as important--or logically valid--for the human? And I completely understand the follow up question: Ya, but at what cost? The cost of something is a value claim isn't it? So to ask "at what cost?" requires another follow up question (or two): "Who is in charge of valuing/evaluating the cost of my withdrawal versus the repercussions of my 'hanging in there'?"

Connected to this is a great fear of mine: being invisible to others. It always seemed like a cool superpower, but the older I get, the more haunted I become at not being seen, recognized, or relevant. Like the boy from the book A Monster Calls, I would be gravely triggered if someone looked me in my eyes and spoke over me, "I no longer see you." I'd be willing to put money on the fact that all of us would be rocked by such a declaration.

Where does that fear come from? There are so many ways to chart the origin of fears, but suffice it to stand here that I would again put money on the fact that we've all experienced someone forgetting about us, not recognizing our work, or just being apathetic to us. That hurts, and sometimes it leaves a deep sting.

Let's return to the animal kingdom. Consider now an invisible turtle. If there were to be such a thing, I can't help but wonder why it would need any defenses. Why would it need protection or the opportunity to withdraw. To be honest, imagining something like this seems to be no different than imagining any other paradox. Aside from being some ice-breaker logic question at a dinner party, such paradoxes lend themselves to the pointless. But the "invisible turtle" might serve us a bit here before running the course of the asinine.

When you feel invisible, do you then attempt to withdraw or hide? I do. I do one hundred percent. It's my m.o. Why? It seems pointless, right?! If I'm invisible, why in the world would I need to hide? However, if it isn't pointless, then there's something untrue. You see, I don't believe that our fear of invisibility ends in not being seen, but in fact being seen... only, being seen as worthless. Once we feel the critical eye of another moving over to us with that perfect cocktail of doubt and dismissiveness, some of us retract into our shells. And what then, if not to simply be a self-fulfilling prophecy? We make ourselves invisible by doing the very thing we hope to avoid: future invisibility.

So, if this is you, as it is for me far more than I'd like to admit, consider yourself the paradoxical invisible turtle. Lose your shell, and choose to be seen.