• It’s All How You Look At It

    by Hollye Dexter

    Recently I watched a fascinating documentary on elephants. There was an alarming escalation of elephants rampaging through Indian villages, trampling people to death. Generally speaking, elephants are peaceful, but something was changing them, and this filmmaker was seeking to unravel the mystery. He was able to trace back the beginnings of most of these rogue elephants, and what he found was striking. All had witnessed their mothers being murdered by a poacher when they were babies, and that seemed to have imprinted violence onto them. (There’s your proof that elephants do indeed have a long memory.)

    Sometimes it just came down to the fact that an elephant had endured years and years of torture by its trainer/captor, and finally snapped one day. Aside from the heartbreaking subject matter, what really struck me was how these abusive captors kept the elephants from running away – they simply tied a thin string around the elephant’s foot. Of course an elephant could easily break this string, but he doesn’t believe he can. You see, the sad truth is when the elephants are babies, the trainer keeps them chained by the foot. The elephant is beaten into submission and can’t get away. After a while, he stops trying. He becomes so conditioned to his captivity that a simple string tied around his foot makes him believe he is powerless.

    I thought long and hard about that. Aren’t we all, in some way, living with a string tied around our foot? I mean, for the majority of my adult life I lived with the limitations imposed on me in my childhood. My childhood is long behind me now, my circumstances are completely different, but I was still attached by that string. I believed I was powerless, that I didn’t have a right to speak up, that I wasn’t a deserving person.

    In my forties, when I finally stood in my own truth, I broke that string and walked into my future a free woman. Just like that elephant, nothing held me back but the belief in my own mind. I lost some of my “captors” in doing so. I thought I had needed them to survive. But here I am – thriving.

    Still other strings remain, many of them subtle, below my everyday consciousness. I know if I could let go of old beliefs, I wouldn’t have such money struggles and self-image issues. And it made me wonder, how far could I, and could we all go – how transformed would our lives be – if we simply broke those strings and walked away?

      • Judy

      • June 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm
      • Reply

      This struck a chord, Hollye. There’s nothing like writing memoir to make you aware of those strings. Hopefully, writing about them helps one slip them off. Thank you for this moving column.

    • What a perfect analogy…also – it would be alarming to find out how many strings we are actually attached to…yikes!

    • Great story Hollye and very apropos to all of us. Break the strings and feel freedom. Not everything has to be a struggle. Love you.

    • Ya, I’m with Madgew again. She says things in a more elegant maner. I would have just said, “Ya, I got strings too.”

    • Hollye — what a great visual – strings on elephants. I will use this.
      Thank you!

      • Jesse

      • June 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm
      • Reply

      I think the string is connecting me to Facebook. But seriously, thanks for this strong, freeing imagery.

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