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Two little stories about an elephant
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There is a story about three blind men outside the gates of an ancient city. They are approached by an elephant. The first blind man feels the tusk and says: “Oh, this being is cool and smooth”. The second one feels the tail and says: “Here is a great brush attached to a long, waving stick”. The third one feels one of the elephant’s legs and says: “This is surely the trunk of a mighty tree.” The takeaway for this story is something like ‘perspective is everything,’ although obviously, there could be other takeaways relating to, for example, not being able to see things.
Another story isn’t a story, it’s a pleasantry about focus. One person says to another: “Think of anything you like but don’t think of an elephant”. Of course, most people, when advised to not picture an elephant in their mind, can think of little else.
When you are in love, or in lust or in infatuation or have a crush or all of these, you cannot think of anything except the person you love, his/her face, scent, touch, hands, thighs, he/she walking away, he/she with the wind blowing their hair, he/she looking at your eyes, touching you, smiling at you, kissing you, licking you – any and all of it. This makes getting through Algebra 1 problematic, I recall. Not just Algebra, Costco, work, tending children, walking the dog.
When you are in love or something like it, this elephant is not only in your mind and thoughts, it is in every single molecule of your being, in what you exhale, in what you swallow. It is immersive, a dream.
It is only many months later that you begin to see the wisdom of story #1, that a tree trunk is a mere leg, a tusk only a horn, a great moving brush just part of a tail.
That’s when you can picture something else. There is still an elephant, it is still mysterious and glorious and almost overwhelming but you can think of something else, too: A dish, a river, a horse, a friend. All of those things can be pictured now so in a sense your mind is more free, but there is a price to be paid for that freedom, not only in focus and recognition, but also in dream.

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