The tortoise wants out so bad you can taste it. She was scurrying about when I got up at 4.40 to feed the cats (was gotten up). Caught her in the middle of hte kitchen floor when I turned on the lights, like a cockroach. Now she’s running laps, her claws scratching the tiles sound like a wheezing businessman running laps in a deserted Y.
She never gives up. I reiterate, I know. She is one of the lucky ones. We all are. Thanks to a long – infinitely long, or at least immeasurably long series of highly unlikely occurrences, we are here. In all likelihood we shouldn’t be. According to the laws of probability. But we are. Because we were lucky. We call it lucky. We here at the tip of the long tail. Because luck got us here, we believe in it. We worship it every week in line for our lottery tickets. We have ceremonies and riguals to guarantee it, like baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
When the tortoise runs her circles, though, something else is going through her mind. Science. She is thinking about science. Through her millions of years of evolution she has learned to make her luck. She doesn’t sit in a shady spot, or in a sunbeam wishing for it. She, usually (unless she is resting or digesting, or fucking her rock (she might not be female, in fact)) walks the perimeters of her existence, seeking an exit. The exit will not come to her, it has to be found. She has to go to it. And she is seeking, not trying to work magic. Because she knows that this amazing series of accidents that is our universe will at some point create a situation she can seize to get what she wants. A door will be left open, a section of fence will fall over, a plant will grow bushy enough to support her weight, and she will climb out.
And although highly unlikely, these possibilities are less unlikely at the perimeter than at the safe center. A tortoise does not believe in fairy godmothers. It believes in pellets of food, lettuce, a water dish, a little house, daytime and night time, hot and cold, hiding and seeking, marching the perimeter, finding a hole and climbing out. It believes in what it has observed and experienced, not in what it wants.
Tortoises invented science, science defined as observing without prejudice and using what is real and what works. Tortoises don’t disbelieve in God but they don’t pray either.