I'm dubbing 2021 the year of the snail. For one, the little mollusks have become quite popular as pets. They are slow. They are patient. These are the traits that the pandemic has forced upon us. It feels, in turns, maddening and a relief. It's nice to have a reason to slow down in a culture where being busy is a badge of adulthood. It's easy to say, I'll just stay here, in my cozy home, because there's nowhere else to be.
Snails are focused and steady. I watch them, leave, return, and they've covered an impressive amount of ground. It reminds me of when I ran cross country races in high school. I was never the fastest runner or the slowest. My dad liked to say, slow and steady wins the race. And that was me. I was reliable and not prone to injuries, and I always finished the races. However, it seemed like the most boring compliment ever. Slow and steady is not exciting, or fun, or popular, the things one strives for in high school. Now, I see that these are good traits.
This year is likely to be a slow slog toward some semblance of normalcy. Already, it's off to a stuttering beginning---there are no celebrations, no trips, and no school. It may help us to look to the snail for wisdom. A snail prefers to find a mate to breed with, but it's a hermaphrodite. It can thrive, and even prosper, on its own. We, too, can make the most of this unusual environment. We can send our babies of art, writing, cooking, whatever we produce out into the world to continue on. We will continue to move forward, slowly and steadily.
If you'd like to see some underwater snails, my friend Maria occasionally takes mesmerizing videos of her aquarium friends. I was lucky enough to receive a trap door snail and several ram's head snails from her for my own aquarium.