Eventually, we left our turtle friend and continued walking, and later wound up on the other side of the street overlooking the river. We spotted another turtle. Then another. And another. The river on this side was turtle heaven. Ok, maybe not. Maybe they don't all get along and maybe the competition for food and such is fierce. But, in my head, our turtle friend navigating his way down on the other side of the dam had friends waiting on this side. If only he knew it.
I went back home that day, and back to work that week. It's been a rough couple of weeks, I'll admit. I have had impossible tasks to complete, that I could not physically do alone (One of my experiments requires the voices of 10 different people. I needed to round out the set with 4 more voices- other than my own- this past week). I spent most of Father's Day weekend panicking as to how it would all get done. My experiment had to be up and running by Wednesday-- and by Saturday and Sunday, I was no closer towards figuring out how to do this.
Desperate, I put the call out on Facebook. And, within only a few hours, the call was answered. Seven people willing to help with my experiment and lend their voices for a couple of hours- so many, I was, in fact, turning people down. My friends came that night to record stimuli. It could have been boring and tedious, but it was fun. Then, my team of research assistants and I edited and otherwise prepped the audio for use. Lastly, I searched my lab for headphones for my subjects to use. I found one pair of sorry looking broken ones. In a panic, I picked up my phone and texted a few people. My old job had some I could borrow, I could pick them up before my first subject the next day.
When I got to the office, I was so thankful. My friend-- while getting me the headphones and listening to me rave about how everyone had come to my rescue this week and practically lapsing into "With a Little Help from My Friends"-- remarked about how I was just relying on my network. It was about the connections, the relationships. I had just thought of my help as coming from good friends. Networking is different, isn't it? But it's not. It's all about building relationships. And, in fact, so much of our work-- any work-- is about just that.
And I realized: I am the turtle. In my panic and caution, I forgot that I had people (my fellow turtles) waiting for me on the other side of this hurdle. If I just trusted the path and kept going, no matter how unfamiliar and scary it might look, my people (or turtles) will be there to back me up when I need it. When the going gets tough, sometimes you just need to float and let your network carry you for a bit. And when things seem lonely or hard, just keep going, your turtle friends will be waiting on the other side of the dam.
*This article was delayed as I needed to do some fact-checking as to if my little turtle pal *could* actually make it to the other side, since I had this whole thing in my head and then realized I didn't know enough about the mechanics of dams to know if this was viable. My favorite marine science friend assured me that it was possible (depending on the dam itself, and as turtles have more options and can also cross on foot)!