Slow, Calm and Careful

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another lesson learned from the reef.

Today we return to one of my favorite subjects – Oscar the Sea Snot Abalone. Although primarily nocturnal, Oscar recently started showing up with the lights on, which gives me the chance to observe him more closely (and take a few pictures).

13A Oscar

Oscar’s primary characteristic (aside from his aforementioned and unfortunate resemblance to something that belongs in a Kleenex) is his speed, or more properly lack thereof.

Oscar wiggles around the tank, munching on algae. He’s diligent to a fault, and stays in each spot until he’s consumed every last edible particle. With the exception of my hand (which he considers a threat) he pretty much ignores outside stimuli. He’s too busy with single-minded, calm, and careful pursuit of his goal.

My female seahorse, Ceti, exhibits similar behavior when hunting crustaceans in the rocks. Her favorite snacks move quickly, so she has to pay careful attention in order to catch them.

13A Ceti hunting

Ceti and Oscar remind me of an important writing truth: in fiction, as in anything else, you reach your goals by slow and careful effort.

Most of us live our lives in a state of impatience, more eager to reach the goal than to spend the time to perfect the process. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and it’s helpful to have the visual reminder that reaching the goal is a process, not just an endpoint, and that success depends on performing carefully and well.