“Do you know how to keep the elephants from running away?”
E. looks around at us sitting in a circle. I know the story already. But the serene mood of the room and her low husky voice make the story feel different this time.
“When the elephant was a baby, people tied the baby elephant to a tree. So it only could move around the area the chain reached. And when it got curious about something far and tried to go, the metal chain stopped it and cut into its skin. So the baby elephant gave up running away. As the elephant grew, he got the power to pull out any tree or peg it was tied. But it never tries, even it was little wood stick stuck on the ground, if his leg was tied.”
I feel something moving in my heart. First time I heard the story, I just thought about the elephant. This time, I am thinking about me. I, as an elephant, tied to the imaginary chain which I thought there has been. Or chains I can pull out or cut off with my power or will. But my thinking tied to the conventional tree resists the process. I have yearned for freedom for all my life, but still I felt bound. Bound to the real things in life. Financially, emotionally, and physically. But I am questioning now. Am I?
This leads to the different question. Then, was I pretending that I was bound to the tree, even knowing that I could break the chain with my power? Was it my hypocritical self which wanted to stay beside the tree, smacking of a free spirit to the people around? Because I knew, I knew that if I stay around the tree, there is no need to find the way of survival. No need to find food and shelter. No need to deal with living necessities. So, in the end, it was me who didn’t go anywhere. But my ego made up an imaginary chain and made myself think in the way that all the social conventional values were tying me up.
If I leave the tree I bound, where can I go? Where is my direction? If I take my journey far, will it be just the daily struggle to survive? Will my freedom become every day’s striving to find things to eat and places to rest? Will it be worth to venture then?
Still I am beside the tree stubbing my toes nervously against the dirt. But the one thing I know is that I am not content with being here, being here for my entire life. I need to find a way to break myself from me-used-to-be. Maybe here, I can make arrow and shoot or learn tricks and show. Or I can go, I can take the chances being hungry, tired, wet and cold out in the rainy nights. I should be ready for the inconveniences of the life. To live the life.
Elephants and whales are special to me. They came in many different ways in my life. I feel like them in some way. Felt big. But I can’t find a place to lay my big body in the world, the world so immense that elephants and whales have no problem in living. I should squeeze myself out, elbowing other beings around, and make my way to the unknown. Break the tie with fear and thrill. Even tears will be worth more in the realm of freedom. In freedom.
<May 10th, 2016>