This week I found myself snuggled up reading in what my kids call “living room number 2.” I was reading The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho and came across a passage that felt like a real show stopper. He writes,
“…once an animal trainer had told him how he was able to keep his elephants under control. The animals, as infants, were bound by chains to a log. They would try to escape, but could not. They tried throughout their entire infancy, but the log was stronger than they were.
So they became accustomed to captivity. And when they were finally huge and strong, all the trainer had to do was place the chain around one of their legs and anchor it anywhere– even to a twig– and they would not attempt to escape. They were prisoners of their past (p 172).”
This was just insane to read. Of course, Coelho offers this imagery as a metaphor for human beings. But more on that in a moment.
Firstly, I did not know this about elephants. Secondly, adaptation to or acceptance of captivity seemed just crazy. I read a little more about elephants living in captivity and learned that (1) nearly 1/3 of African elephants live their entire lives in captivity and (2) they remain relatively undomesticated, despite their captivity.
I wasn’t planning to learn about elephants. I was reading to learn about humanity and healing and forgiving the past. But this made me think: if something as grant and wild and wonderful as an elephant can accept a non-reality like captivity, just think what human beings might do.
But humans aren’t elephants. We can recognize patterns and realities and make change.
Today, I meditated on releasing the past. On letting go. On forgiving and forgetting things that have upset me, or those I have upset. I can release myself from whatever mental “captivity” I’ve embraced over the years.
Letting go brings me peace.
You know what else might bring me peace? Saving an elephant. I’m looking into it.
What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!