Awake in the World

The one thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation. – Bertrand Russell

Loggerhead turtles once filled the beaches of the South. Today their survival depends on conservation-minded women and men who comb the beaches for nests and mark or move them to protect them from the tides. On a recent trip to the Isle of Palms, South Carolina , friend and author of The Butterfly’s Daughter, Mary Alice Monroe, who has written about turtles in her fiction, invited me to witness two nests hatching. 

At about nine in the evening we headed to the beach. That’s the time the sand cools and the temperature signals to the turtles that it’s safe to come out. The moon was rising over the ocean and a tiny, unobtrusive mic had been placed below ground to hear the activity. The amplifier picked up the turtles digging together followed by pauses. The eggs end up on top of each other. Mary Alice, a certified turtle lady, explained that the eggs had actually hatched  days earlier, then it takes them a few days to dig to the surface. The digging is a group effort. The turtles on top, which are about the size of a silver dollar, dig upward. The turtles in the middle of the nest push the sand outward and the ones on the bottom push the sand down to create a firm surface to push off of. They dig their way out together.

When the first tiny head and flipper poked through the sand, a ripple of excitement filled the sea air. We patiently waited and watched as the periods of digging and pausing continued until all of the turtles began to appear. Their movement looked like boiling water as they struggled to make it out of the nest and rush towards the sea where the waves took them in. From there they would swim for three days to get to the Gulf Stream only to return some twenty-nine years later to lay their eggs.

It takes all of them working together to get out of the hole. This act of cooperation amazed me. Digging alone, they most likely would not have made it very far, but by pulling together through deep instinct, they made it to the top and out to the water to begin their life journey. I believe we, too have an instinct towards cooperation that is often clouded by the mind. Today, if you’d like, consider all of the ways that we cooperate with others. How can cooperation become a greater part of your life?

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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