Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Elephant and the Peg.

Ever wondered why circus elephants don't run away? I've never really questioned it. I don't go to circuses anymore because they're cruel, have always felt sad for the animals performing all these stupid tricks which always kind of made me feel uncomfortable. Can a kid sense sadness in animals?

In 1977 I was five years old on a catamaran in Fiji and caught my first fish. The excitement! The joy! And then .. that fish I caught? Quickly and unceremoniously unhooked, descaled, head chopped off, red blood spilling everywhere, oh. I was a fish murderer. I got so distraught my mum had to take me downstairs to lie down. There's a photo of me clutching my pink ted and a comic book, eyes still red. Every time I've fished since then I've always thrown it back. Sorry Jesus I highly disagree. (Even though I make a mean tuna casserole because I'm a complete hypocrite. And hoover down bacon and eggs, pushing the thoughts of piggeries and chicken prisons out of my head. I'm thinking the vegans are onto something.)

So circus elephants have this chain around their leg which is attached to a puny wooden peg in the ground. They can snap these pegs like toothpicks, these majestic 10-foot tall 5,00kg animals. They can escape to freedom anytime they want to but they don't. They don't even try. The world’s most powerful animal stays tied down by a small peg and a flimsy chain. Why in hell would it not realise its power to just walk off into the wilderness? Or at least the circus carpark?

When the elephants are babies, the "trainers" tie a chain around its leg which is tied to a metal stake hammered into the ground. The chain and peg are strong enough for the baby elephant so each time it tried to break away and yes it tried, all the time .. the metal chain would pull it back causing deep cuts into the skin of the elephant’s leg, making it bleed the same colour red of a small fish on a catamaran with its head cut off.  This wound would hurt the baby elephant even more. It would longingly watch the world pass it by in the distance. Yet every time it pulled harder it hurt and cut more and eventually, that baby elephant realised it could not escape. So it stopped trying.

A big circus elephant is tied by a chain around its leg and you know how an elephant never forgets? It clearly remembers the pain it felt as a baby so it doesn't try to break away. It stands still. Its knows its limitations and moves only as much as the chain allows. Doesn't matter that the metal stake has been replaced by a wooden peg. That gorgeous 100 kilo baby elephant is now a magnificent fully-grown powerhouse and because it believes it's trapped it stays trapped. For its entire life.

Anyway so we're humans beings yet we too may never forget the things that trap us, make it so easy to stay in places and situations encumbered, fearful. Prisoners only of our minds.

What if we can snap our pegs anytime we want to without looking back and sashay across the plains into the forest where the wild things go. We can do that. We can do that right now.

I did. It was terrifying - still is. Which is why I've called all my Power back, all the power I've given away to people during the course of my life. Why would I just give away my life-force? THAT is bonafide legit crazy.

So if you think you're trapped and stuck, you're not. Come join me. Even though I'm a human being I'm also a free elephant doing things only a free elephant does. Cruising round, trumpeting with my huge trunk, doing huge dumps in the forest wherever I please.

It's extraordinary ... who knew?

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