The Rabbit had always held a high opinion of himself. He was fast, he was diligent when he needed to be. He could always get his work done on time. Among other rabbits too he generally considered to be a legend. Rabbit often joked that he could easily live of sponsorship deals and the money he made on the track if he kept this up for just a few more days. This was all before the Tortoise came to town.
The Tortoise wore a red bandana and could often be seen out of his shell doing push-ups in the park. It was said that he had once raced a rabbit along the length of the river and won. The Tortoise when questioned declined to comment. He simply looked away and whispered ‘stories often have a hidden meaning’. Well Very Zen of him thought the rabbit. There was no way this tortoise could defeat him. So one morning he went to the park and challenged him to a race. The Tortoise initially declined, he smiled and continued with his push-ups. The rabbit however challenged him again and said he would not leave unless the Tortoise accepted. A small crowd had gathered by now and eventually the Tortoise accepted, if only so the rabbits would leave him alone.
The Tortoise chose the route, it would trace the river, across the long bend and finish a full 2 miles away. The Rabbit at first found the distance a little intimidating, but he was confident in his abilities to win. Also, unlike the children’s tale he had read, he was determined not to rest halfway. He would, he decided… pace himself. The second condition the tortoise placed was- ‘no rules other than cross the finish line first’. The Rabbit laughed and accepted. Cross the finish line first, that was exactly what he would be doing!
The day of the race arrived and sure enough, the Rabbit shot off the start at rapid pace. He was going to win! To ensure he could do the entire 2 miles, he conserved energy, but frequently looked behind him… the tortoise was nowhere to be seen. As he reached halfway- at the apex of the bend he started to feel comfortable. The Zen tortoise was still not in view. He kept up the pace and an hour later he arrived at the finish line. He could see a few rabbits there already, undoubtedly they had been here to celebrate. But… more surprisingly… the Tortoise!
How had he done it? This was impossible. The rabbit was confused, his little rabbit brain seemed to convulse under the pressure of strenuous thinking. What manner of magic was this? What had the rabbit missed?
He was huffing and puffing from his ordeal and beads of sweat were forming on his rabbit fur but anger and confusion dominated his mind to the extent that he argued with the other rabbits trying to extract some vital piece of information from them. The other rabbits seemed to be sympathetic, but wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell him what had happened. They kept repeating that the Tortoise had made it a few minutes before him and that he had been soaking wet… and that there were no rules. Eventually the Rabbit confronted the Tortoise. He demanded to know how he had been defeated. The Tortoise pointed at the river and simply said, ‘I swam’
The moral- the weak have their own skills.