Is that shield really worth carrying?

The tortoise who was born naked

Once upon a time a set of eggs hatched, and many cute baby tortoises came out. They all looked like miniature versions of their parents – with their shields and all.
All, behalf one.

There was one of the baby tortoises who was born without a shield!
The parents were desperate. How will she do in life, without protection?

They loved her, but they also felt ashamed of her – she was so different and they would have really liked her to be just like any other tortoise.
As time passed, the young naked tortoise soon figured out how to make the best of her body: she was cold and un-protected, according to the other tortoises. But she did not know the difference anyway, and yet she was a lot more agile than any other tortoise. Without having to carry the weight of the shield, she could also move faster. She taught herself to climb and to jump.
She quickly started winning all the games because of her speed, and the other kids tortoises in school started being jealous, and felt threatened by her.
They all started teasing her and considering her a ‘weirdo’. Many people are often afraid of what they do not understand.

Her family took her to a doctor, then another, then another. Nobody had ever seen such a strange case.
One of the doctors was a very ambitious guy and he saw the opportunity to get published and to make a career leap by attempting a new kind of operation: he said that these days medicine and science has advanced so much that they could be attempting to implanting her a factory-made-shield, even if she was not born with one. So she could be just like the other tortoises! The family was glad to sign her up for this ‘cure’. Her parents thought this would be the right course of action to give her a good future among the other tortoises. They were working hard and wanted the best for their offspring.

But the naked tortoise was never asked how she wanted to be! She didn’t want to be like the other tortoises! She wasn’t like them, and she liked how she was! She wanted to just be accepted for who she was. Doesn’t anybody just want that?

She felt oppressed by the idea she’d be made a sort of half-robot scientific experiment and she decided to escape.
The same night, she left her forest and set on to travel and discover the world.

On the first day of her trip, just out of the forest she had left behind, on a grassy field, she met a snake.
– Hello Mr snake – said the tortoise
– Howdy – hissed the snake, surprised – Nobody ever talks to me, are you not afraid of me?
– Should I be? – replied the naked tortoise
– I am poisonous – explained the snake
– Do you kill other animals with your poison? – asked the tortoise
– Thanks for asking. – said the snake, politely – I am actually vegetarian by choice. For this reason, the other snakes don’t want to hang out with me, and think I am weak. So, I don’t have many friends among my kin…
– Do you have any other friend? – the tortoise inquired
– Oh – said the snake, slightly embarrassed – actually none. I don’t have any interest in killing and eating other animals, but they are afraid of my poison and don’t trust me.
– Do you want to be my friend? I trust you. Together we can travel the world.
– I promise I won’t ever bite you – the snake said, and he had tears in his eyes, for the joy of having found a friend
– I know – the tortoise reassured him

So they continued the journey together.

On the second day of the trip, the naked tortoise and the snake met a chameleon.
As everybody knows, chameleons are animals whose peculiar trait is the ability to change the color of their skin to match whatever environment they are in, in order to stay hidden.

But this one chameleon was just white, like a sheet of paper, and was in plain sight, in the middle of the road. He didn’t seem interested in hiding.

– Hello – said the tortoise
– Hi there – nodded the Chameleon, rolling his eyes
– How comes you don’t change color like the other chameleons? – asked the snake
– I can’t – the chameleon explained, blushing – I was born this way. The other chameleons think I am in great danger because I can’t hide all the times like they do, and someone will eventually eat me. They were also very scared I would place them in danger – they are always so scared of everything! – , so I am considered a sort of freak, and I was cast away from the chameleon community. I am now travelling the world on my own. So far I didn’t have any trouble, to be honest.
– How coincidental. – said the tortoise – we are outcasts too, and we are travelling the world together. Maybe you would like to join us and be friends?

And so the party had three members, and they continued their trip.

It is said that as they continued their trip, day after day they kept meeting new friends along their road. Whoever joined their party was always good hearted, but in one way or another had something ‘special’ and for that reason had been rejected by the family or community he or she was born in.

Each one of them felt he or she had never belonged to any place in particular, and yet now they felt a strong bond with each other – and that’s where they belonged: with their friends, who had chosen to be with them and loved them for who they were, without trying to change them.

So, together, they kept wandering the world and discovering its many beauties.
Someone says they are still out there, and maybe one day you’ll meet them too.

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