I was retold a story yesterday by my father, a classic, which I refer to as “The Elephant and the String”.
Hearing it again reminded me that as we grow older, the classic wisdom’s and stories we’ve heard since childhood, and especially those from our parents, take on a more significant meaning. Indeed as the years pass, they take on different meanings, as each time we hear them, we are ready to see and hear different things.
In case you have yet to hear “The Elephant and The String” story, here it goes…
On the day a new elephant is born, the training method of East Asian “mahouts” has been to tie one end of a thick rope to the elephant’s neck or leg, and the other to a stake planted deeply in the ground.
From birth the young elephant struggles and fights to free itself, day after day, month after month, and year after year. But the overwhelming rope eventually conquers the young elephant, as at some point in it’s life, it gives up, stops resisting, and stops fighting. From that day forth, the trainer replaces the thick rope with a thin string, and the elephant continues living under the belief that it cannot defeat the rope.
Whenever the elephant feels the familiar tightening of the string (albeit much softer), it is reminded of the rope, and gently moves back to the center of it’s radius.
I was fascinated hearing this story again, and I had to ask myself, what types of ropes do we place around our own necks unwittingly? Are there strings now placed there out of convention that we are completely unaware of?
How unfortunate a reality it must be, to live in our own captivity, without even knowing it.
Henry David Thoreau is known for saying, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
Why not give careful thought to Thoreau’s words, along with a closer look at the radius and reach of our own imaginations.