Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Story: El Elefante Encadenado

- ''I can't, I just can't!''
- ''Are you sure?'' he asked.
- ''Yes, I would love to just stand in front of her and tell her how I feel... But I know I can't!!!''

Jorge stood like Buddha on those terrible blue armchairs of his office. He smiled, looked me in the eyes and by lowering his voice - like he did every time he wanted to be heard carefully - he whispered to me: ''Here's a little story...''

Without waiting for my answer, Jorge started narrating:

When I was a small boy, I loved going to the circus. Animal acts were my favourite. I was most impressed by the elephant, who is - as I later discovered - the favourite animal of all children. The elephant's part of the show was a display of his huge weight, his immense size and power... Then as the show was approaching its end, slightly before the elephant had to return to his tent, he was standing tied to a tiny wooden stake driven partially into the ground. A chain was wrapped around his feet.

The size of the stake was very small, and the part of it that was driven into the ground was even smaller. The chain that was wrapped around the legs of the elephant was quite large, but it seemed quite obvious, even to my childish mind, that an animal whose power was so large, so immense that could rip trees off the ground and hurl them to others, was more than enough to let the elephant just rise and walk away.

That was the mystery of the elephant.

What sort of immense force could keep the elephant tied to that tiny stake?

Why didn't he rise and walk away?

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I put great trust in the wisdom of the elder people. So I asked my teached, my father and my uncle about the mystery of the elephant. I don't remember anymore who gave me the particular answer, but one of the replies was that the elephant doesn't run away because he is ''tame''.

Then I asked the obvious question: ''If hes tame, why do they have to chain him?'' I don't think I ever got a satisfactory answer to this question.

As time went by, I forgot all about the mystery of the huge elephant and the tiny stake. The mystery would only resurface when I was at the company of others who had wondered about the same thing.

Then a few years ago, I discovered that someone knew why the elephant doesn't run away.

The elephant doesn't run away because they have been tying him to a similar stake ever since he was very very small.

I closed my eyes, and I tried to imagine the small, newborn elephant, chained to the ground. The small elephant would push, pull and struggle with all his strenght, trying to free himself, but he would fail. Despite all his efforts, he would fail again and again, because that stake and chain was too big for his strength.

The elephant would sleep exhausted from all his efforts to free himself, and would wake up the next day. All his struggles would fail the next day too, and a third day, and a fourth, and many tiresome, exhausting days after those. Then one day would come - a horrible day for the history of our elephant - a day that he would just give up, and accept his fate, deciding that he was too weak to escape, that his strength was not enough and would never be enough.

The huge and immensely powerful elephant that we see in the circus does not run away because the poor animal believes that he cannot do that.

The memory of the lack of strengh he felt a little after his birth is now deeply engraved to his very soul and spirit.

The worst of it all is that he has never tried to free himself since.

He never ever tried to test his powers again.

Thats how it goes, Damian. We are all more or less like the elephant in the circus. We stroll around the world chained in hundreds of stakes that deprive our freedom.

We live by believing that ''we can't'' do any sort of thing, just because one time, a long time ago when we were children, we tried and we didn't succeed.

The same thing happened to us. We engraved in our memory this message:

''I can't, I can't and I will never can.''

Jorge made a big pause. He then came close, sat infront of me and continued:

''That's what's happening to you, Damian. You live inside the limits of a memory of a Damian that doesn't exist anymore, the one that never made it.

The only way to know if you can, is to try again with all your spirit... All your soul!''

By Jorge Bucay.

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