Most people are aware of the way it’s possible for a tiny rope or chain to hold an elephant in place while they are capable of downing huge trees. But in case you’ve forgotten, I’ll remind you. When the elephants are captured as babies, a rope is tied around its foot and staked to the ground. As a teen, the rope is exchanged for a chain; not necessarily a big chain, just a bigger one reminding them of their inability to be free. After years of confinement, the elephant ceases to struggle.
Now, we may find ourselves saying, “Boy, I’m so glad people are smarter than animals. No wonder we’re the most intelligent creatures on the planet.” But if you said this, you would be mistaken. People behave in the same way all the time. Let me give you an example of human mind conditioning, as this is what the process is called, “conditioning.” And we all do it every day and expect the same of each other.
In my early twenties, I experienced a condition romanticized in films all the time. As a matter of fact, I used to wish it would happen to me so I could live “happily ever after” like a fairytale or like the movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell – so romantic! But let me be the first to tell you that it lasts much longer and is a lot more lonely when no one tries to understand or help, but distance themselves because they’re uncomfortable. I can’t say I blame them. I may have reacted the same way, not knowing how to behave or what the wrong thing to say is.
But then, a lot of you already know that about me, and that isn’t what I’m talking about today as much as the elephant. Despite trying four different times to attend a university, being unable to retain information, I persevered. Not so everyone would tell me how wonderful I am, but because I knew I could be much more than what I was. The fifth time, I’d regained enough memory, and picked up beneficial study habits and memory tidbits that not only did I graduate, I wound up near the top of my class. The problem was that now I was 49-years-old.
“How is that a problem?” you ask. “You graduated. Get on out and revel with yourself!”
Think about it for a moment as if you’re an HR representative, and a 50-year-old person comes to you wanting a position in your company. Regardless of younger people being a bit more flighty and free, as far as the hiring authority can gather, I’ve done exactly the same—for much longer. Unable to hold a position and last long for the better part of 20 years, I was able to hold onto mindless work for a while. I’m far too old for exotic dancing and truck driving as I’ve done during the middle years—mindless work for awesome pay. And now I have two kids relying on me, which I need to set an example for. If nothing else, aside from age, when I worked those positions, I usually work extremely long and erratic hours. Good thing I have a degree with lots of awards, huh?
Not necessarily. Seventy-eight thousand dollars of debt is what I’ve accumulated for a singular chain around my foot, holding me firm to a stake. A chain that’s been there so long I have no idea if I will ever break free from it. Will I need to continue working for $12/hour or find the position I’ve worked so long and hard to get perfect? Maybe, just maybe, I’ll spread my ears with a feather in my trunk and fly from the highest peak of the circus tent. Dumbo did it. I’ve got to leap for all I’m worth and hope I survive. Otherwise, I’m letting all the people who continually tighten the restraint win. And frankly, I can’t do that. Not today. I’m a writer.
By the way, many of you are in the same boat as I was in feeling like an elephant. Just before the holidays, I determined I was going to lose weight. Not only would it make me feel better when shopping because I would have more than two shirts and one tablecloth skirt to choose from, but the overall advantages of getting healthier are pretty scary, in a good way, if you think about it. I don’t think anyone really gets excited about putting their foot through a pant leg without having to hold onto something, but now I can. I weighed myself and am down to 190.5 lbs. I believe it is partially due to a secret I found. Next weekend, if I’m still on track with this discovery, I’ll share it with you. I want to make sure it’s working. You’ll know too, just remember what my weight is today. And remember, NEVER think you can’t do anything. You are not a chained circus animal.