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When I was a child I loved the circus, and what I was more
fond of were circus animals, especially the elephant, which as I later learned, was
also the animal preferred by other children.
During the performance, the huge beast boasted of weight, size and enormous strength... But
in between performances the elephant always remained tied to a small stake with
a chain imprisoning one of his legs.
However, the stake was only a tiny piece of timber just buried a few
inches in the ground. And while the chain was thick and powerful, it seemed obvious
that an animal capable of uprooting a tree, could
get easily rid of the stake and flee.
The mystery still seems evident. What holds him then?
Why not run? When I was five or six years, I still believed
in the wisdom of the elders and I asked a teacher, a father or an uncle about the mystery
of the elephant. Some of them explained that the elephant didnÕt escape because he was
tamed. I then asked the obvious question: "If he
is tamed, why do they tie him?È. I canÕt remember receiving any coherent response.
Over time, I forgot about the mystery of the elephant and the stake, and only remembered
it occasionally when I was with others who also had
ever asked themselves the same question. Some years ago, I discovered that, luckily
for me, someone had been wise enough to come up with an answer:
The circus Elephant does not escape because he has been tied to a stake from a very early
age. I closed my eyes and imagined the helpless
newborn elephant subject to the stake. I'm sure
that, at the time, the elephant pushed, pulled and sweated trying to get loose. And, despite
their efforts did not succeed, because that stake
was too hard for him. I figured he fell asleep exhausted and the
next day tried again, and the next day, and the next ...
Until, one day, a terrible day for his history, the animal accepted his helplessness and resigned
himself to its fate. This huge and powerful elephant we see in
the circus does not escape because, poor thing, he believes that he canÕt .
Engraved in his memory is the helplessness he felt shortly after his birth.
And the worst thing is that he never seriously questioned that memory.
Never, never tried to test his strength ... We are all a bit like the circus elephant:
we are tied to hundreds of stakes that prevent our freedom. We live thinking
that "we can not" do lots of things, simply because once, long ago, when
we were little, we tried and failed. We then did the same as the elephant,
and recorded in our memory the message: I canÕt, I canÕt and will never
be able to. We grew up with that self-impossed message
and we never tried to free ourselves from the stake.