Lesson Two: Things Do Not Have to be Perfect to be Ideal

“Life isn’t meant to be lived perfectly…but merely to be LIVED. Boldly, wildly, beautifully, uncertainly, imperfectly, magically LIVED.”  ~Mandy Hale

Sometimes in life, we need to follow these steps:

Ready….fire!

Aim and fire again!

If we wait for perfection, we may wait too long.

The first time I built a hideout for the tortoises, I followed those very steps (and yes…I had to go back, aim better, and rebuild).

Why is it important to have just the right kind of hideout for tortoises? Tortoises like to hide. They burrow, they dig, they climb over things, they climb under things…they like to hide.  When keeping tortoises as pets, it is important to give them places to hide.

There are four main reasons that tortoises hide (but only 3 of these apply to my tortoises):

1) For Shelter. Turtles are cold-blooded – they rely on external sources to maintain the right body temperature. They also shelter from rain, and mine do not like to come out when it is windy (it gets windy on the mountain where I live, especially during the “Christmas Winds”).

2) For Safety. Tortoises can retract into their shells when scared, but this is a last resort safety behavior. On the island of St Croix, rats and mongooses will both try to eat tortoises if given the opportunity – especially young tortoises. In fact, they can eat them right out of their shells! This is why tortoises stay hidden much of the time, again, especially young tortoises.

3) To Lay Eggs. Tortoises will lay their eggs in a location they feel will be safe from predators (rats, mongooses, dogs, crabs, iguanas, etc. will all eat turtle eggs). Even humans eat turtle eggs.

4) To Hibernate. Many tortoises in different parts of the world hibernate. Red-footed tortoises living on the island of St Croix do not hibernate. There is no need, as the temperature stays pretty steady all year.

As I started making improvements to Torti Town, I decided to use some of the extra wood I had lying around (from a roof torn down by hurricane Maria) to build a tortoise hide for my creep (did you know that a group of tortoises is called a creep?).

Here’s a bonus Life Lesson I learned: I suck at building things…

I went to work in my backyard with extra wood, some screws, and some paint. Now, I don’t have a wood-working shed, or many of the tools needed for this job…but I have a lot of determination (some call it stubbornness, but why use such a negative word when a really positive one fits just as well?).

I used three boards for the roof, and one for each side. Here is how it looked the first time around:

The walls kind of tilted in, and the whole thing looked more like a shanty than a Tavern…but my largest tort fit inside, and it provided shelter and shade (plus it’s such a nice shade of yellow)…so I dubbed it a SUCCESS!

Now I just needed to pick it up and place it in the perfect spot in Torti Town. The result:

Ok…Not a success.

After a trip to Home Depot and a little help from my boyfriend, Dean…I was able to build a much more stable Torti Tavern. I painted a sign, added a planter to the roof, put some tortoise-safe plants around it, and voila’. A tortoise hide that is ideal!

Is it perfect? Not even close! In fact, I have since built two other very cool-looking hides (much better looking than Torti Tavern). And guess what…?

The tortoises prefer Torti Tavern. They all pile into Torti Tavern until no more will fit. They think it is ideal, in a Velveteen Rabbit sort of way, because they love it.

Here is a video that shows one tiny tortoise who just can’t find the room to fit inside:
There are some much cooler, more perfect, hides for the tortoises:
This hide is made from a rum barrel turned on its side.

Yes…those are actual palm fronds from my yard forming the roof.


But they continue to pile into Torti Tavern until no one else can fit. The tortoises don’t care that Torti Tavern is not perfect. To them, it is ideal.

The truth is, there is no such thing as perfection.

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”  ~Stephen Hawking

I have heard people say with a sort of pride in their voice, “I’m a perfectionist,” and often people even claim this as their flaw in job interviews. And yet, the pursuit of perfection actually holds us back professionally, as described in this article from Forbes Magazine.

Not only does perfectionism harm us professionally, it also has negative impacts on us emotionally and in our relationships. It leads to regret and dissatisfaction, and sometimes to depression.

Perfectionism can prevent us from being happy, as Steven Handel describes in his article: How Perfectionism Destroys Happiness.

The good news is, perfectionism is a mindset. It is something you can change, if you choose. The article mentioned above gives some examples of different mindsets you can practice to help overcome perfectionism. It also has some exercises to try. My favorite is called: Try Failing on Purpose (It May Even Be Fun). I’ve often shared with my students this adage I found in a fortune cookie:

I’d love to hear from you if this idea of striving for perfection is something that resonates with you. Overcoming this is life-changing (speaking from experience here).

And if you have to try and try again at overcoming your perfectionism…then just be patient with yourself (no one’s perfect, right?). Well…turtles are pretty close to perfect. They are perfectly cute! But they do not concern themselves with seeking perfection. They concern themselves with living, boldly, wildly, beautifully, uncertainly, imperfectly, magically living (and hiding helps them do Just that!)

A challenge for all of us: Purposefully choose an activity you don’t know how to do (or something you’re not good at), and do it! Put yourself in a position to “fail on purpose” and remind yourself to have fun with it.

Stay tuned for more Tales from Torti Town.

2 thoughts on “Lesson Two: Things Do Not Have to be Perfect to be Ideal

  1. Hmmmm….what do I not know how to do??? I'm thinking something on skates, but I'm also picturing a fractured hip. I'll report back on what I decide!

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