The Alligator Turtle©

One bright day in a tropical swamp, a large turtle was perched on an old cypress stump, looking like a bump on a log. A frog was just about to move within the reach of the turtle, who planned to eat him. Suddenly an alligator broke the water’s surface and gobbled up the frog.

“That was my frog!” shouted the turtle.

The alligator grunted and said, “How can anything be yours, turtle, if you sit around like a bump on a log and wait for things to come to you? You have to go after things in this world. After all, it’s a jungle out here.”

The turtle replied, “How can I go after things? I’m just a turtle.”

“Sure,” said the alligator, “you’re a turtle, but you don’t have to remain a turtle. I was once a turtle just like you, but I became an alligator.”

“How can that be?” questioned the turtle.

“Well, I’ll tell you,” said the alligator. “You see, turtles and alligators are both reptiles. So I decided I could be any kind of reptile I wanted to be.”

“But,” said the turtle, “there is a difference between turtles and alligators.”

“No, not necessarily so,” replied the alligator. “We both have four legs, a big mouth, hard armor on our backs, claws, and a tail.”

“That’s true,” said the turtle. “But how did you change into an alligator?”

“It didn’t happen right away,” explained the alligator. “I had to follow a plan. First, I had to think like an alligator. Then, I began to walk like an alligator. Next, I learned to talk like an alligator. I even learned to swim like an alligator. And most of all, I learned everything an alligator should know.”

“But,” asked the turtle, “what did other turtles think of this?”

“Well, at first, some of them made fun of me,” replied the alligator. “But I didn’t mind. I knew that someday I’d be an alligator and they would be surprised. And one day it happened.”

“What happened?” asked the turtle.

“I began to look like an alligator. My tail began to grow longer. My big shell began to soften and stretch out from my head to my tail. My legs suddenly grew longer, and my head and brain grew bigger. And here I am today, an alligator among alligators.”

“Wow!” cried the turtle. “This is fantastic. Could I become an alligator?”

“Of course you can, if you are willing to work at it,” replied the alligator.

“Oh, I’m willing to work at it,” insisted the turtle.

“Very well,” said the alligator. And with that, the big gator swished its big tail and knocked the turtle from the cypress stump and into the water. The turtle was stunned for a moment, splashing and trying to keep its head above water. Finally, after catching some air, the turtle cried out, “Why did you do that?”

“Now,” said the alligator, “you have taken the first step toward becoming what you want to be. You are no longer a bump on a log waiting for things to come to you.”

“But what if I don’t become an alligator—what will happen to me?” cried the turtle.

“Hey, listen here,” replied the alligator. “Not everybody can become an alligator. But who knows, you might become a very well-respected lizard! Go for it!”

Do your best and you will see,
You can be what you want to be.