What is it that turtles know that we seem to be missing? I think they get the importance of connection. Clearly they seem to believe that you can't have too many turtles on one rock as this picture indicates. By contrast in North American culture we are inclined to want the rock all to ourselves. Why is that?
I think what it comes down to is that we think we are safe if we don't rely on others. We think that being independent and self sufficient protects us from vulnerability. There seems to be some fear in admitting that we need help. However, this is often a double standard. We like to be needed. We like it when people ask us for help and we tend not to judge them for it. Funny how we seldom see ourselves that way. It is not uncommon to judge ourselves as weak or incapable if we ask for assistance. But who among us doesn't need help?
We live in a culture of autonomy and individuation. Me, myself and I..."I got it"..."I'm good"..."no need to help"...how many times have we hear ourselves say that to a friendly neighbour, shop clerk or co-worker?
Chances are that if we accepted the friendly hand we might have made a connection. We might have had a more meaningful experience. We might have learned something about someone or even ourselves. It is in our interactions with others that we can learn the most. It is far too easy to think we are complete when we don't have anyone reflecting us back to ourselves. It is risky because we might not like what we see but it could be fruitful. We could learn what we need to work on.
Connections are powerful learning opportunities. After all whether we admit it or not we are all connected. The ripples that we send out into the world affect our families, neighbours, co-workers and communities. These ripples matter. Ripples of I-don't-need-your-help vs thank-you-for-your-kindness can change the course of some ones day. It is important that we recognize that fact.
Next time someone asked if you need a hand say "yes." Climb up onto that rock with the other turtles and see what happens.