Since the beginning man has used stories to teach, connect, heal and grow. Susan Perrow’s beautiful book Healing Stories For Challenging Behaviour inspired me to write this story for my boy when he was facing peer competitiveness and fears of not being good enough.
Sound familiar? It does to me.
Speedy Rabbit loved nothing more than running. He lived in a land of hills and valleys and he would bound through them, zip, zip, zipping along between shrubs and under grasses. As he ran he would feel so happy. A big shining bubble of happiness would swell inside him because oh, it just felt so good to run! He really didn’t care if he ran fast or he ran slow, if he ran funny or if he ran smart, he just wanted to run because it felt so good.
And he was happy with his life.
Then one day he zipped past two animals grazing in a field. “Wow, did you see that rabbit run?” He heard the one say to the other. “I think he might even be faster than Cheetah.” Speedy Rabbit didn’t think anything of that, even though everybody knows that Cheetah is the fastest animal in the whole world. Later, when some animals came to ask him if he would race Cheetah, he felt pleased that others thought he was so good and he agreed.
He started to go into the hills and valleys every day to practice running fast. Fast, fast faster he would run, over and over, trying to get better and better so that when the day of the race came he would beat Cheetah and everyone would say he was best.
The day of the race dawned bright and clear. The animals gathered around the track ready to watch and cheer for the two fastest animals and to see who would win. All around animals were talking about who they thought would be the winner and Speedy Rabbit really, really hoped it would be him. As he and Cheetah lined up on the start line Speedy Rabbit started to feel a bit sick in his stomach. ‘What if I’m not actually that good?’ he thought. ‘What if I’m not good enough? What if Cheetah beats me?’ But he didn’t have much time to think because On Your Marks, Get Set, GO! And they were off. Cheetah and Speedy Rabbit running as fast as they could, each trying to beat the other, each wanting to be first.
It seemed so very important.
Well do you know what happened? Speedy Rabbit won the race. He did, he really did. And the animals shouted and cheered and gave him a gold medal and carried him about on their shoulders like a hero. But later he heard that Cheetah had been running the race with a sore paw and he knew in his heart that the race had not been fair. He wasn’t sure if he really was the fastest – and somehow it felt important to know for sure. So when the animals asked him to race again he agreed.
The day of the second race was a little windy. The wind moved the leaves of the trees and the fur of the animals waiting excitedly to see the great race. On Your Marks, Get Set, GO! Cheetah sped off with Speedy Rabbit bounding along as fast as he could. This time Cheetah won the race fair and square and everybody knew that Cheetah was still the fastest animal on earth. They shouted and cheered for Cheetah and gave him the gold medal. Speedy Rabbit was left off to the side on his own. It was all over. Now he knew that he was not the fastest.
Coming back home he felt like a whole lifetime had passed since he was that rabbit who used to run and run just for the joy of it. He could hardly remember how it was to run and run just because it felt so good. No matter whether he ran fast or whether he ran slow, whether he ran funny or whether he ran smart – the fun of it was why he used to run. Speedy Rabbit looked sadly at the hills and valleys where he used to run. ‘What is the point in running’, he thought, ‘if there are no prizes or people telling me that I’m the best? Now that I know I am not the best, I just don’t see the point in running.’
He started to make his way home through the green grasses. It was still quite far to get to his burrow and it was getting late so he went a little faster, and then a little faster still – just because he could – and before he knew it he was zip, zip, zipping along. As he bounded through the hills and valleys, zip, zip, zipping along between shrubs and under grasses he felt that old happiness start to bubble up from deep within him. The joy of running fast just for the fun of it again spread its shine through his heart and his chest, his arms and legs, his whole body and he understood how it really felt to be a winner.
Nowadays if you are in a land of green hills and valleys, you might just catch a glimpse of Speedy Rabbit zip, zip, zipping along between shrubs and under grasses.
Just because it’s fun.
And he is happy with his life.