Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Rafiki, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Your remarkable work put me in mind of an elephant I met on the Serengeti. I am moved to share this story with you because I'm pretty sure you will understand why it was as extraordinary as it was. Your skill as an artist is only outshone by the sensitivity you brought to that remarkable portrait. So, if I may, I will just let myself spew.

    I was staying at a lodge on the Mara inspired by a Masai village ~ a ring of rooms around a central courtyard, all protected by thick, thorny brush.

    There were many rather expensive activities for guests including champagne balloon rides, which I declined, and trips out into the Masai Mara in a jeep with the lodge naturalist. I could afford to do this only twice and found that I had much time on my hands and eventually grew tired of watching the baboons lounge about grooming each other as though they, too, were on holiday.

    So, I set off beyond the limits of the compound. I walked beyond all the warning signs and down a winding road that led me into ever denser brush.

    I rounded a bend and saw, about 20 feet in front of me, something enormous. I could not quite understand what I was looking at. The thought that it might be a bus flashed through my mind because it was about the size of a small bus but it had legs. In fact, it seemed to have 6 legs of different sizes.

    The moment expanded to contain all of this remarkable experience until I was shaken back to my senses by the sound and sight of a stream of hot urine which was released from one of the legs... which wasn't a leg at all! An Elephant!

    As I watched he pulled up small trees on the side of the road to eat the leaves. Why bother reaching up when you can so easily simply uproot the tree?

    When he walked, I walked. When he stopped, I stopped. I felt that he was tolerating my presence and, so long as I kept to our agreement and approached no closer, he was happy enough to have me there. Elephants have very acute senses and I know he both saw me and smelled me. I don't recall how long we walked like this. Between 10 and 20 minutes I would think but time had lost all meaning.

    It was only when I contemplated returning down the winding road to the lodge where I could well encounter a lion -there were many in the area- that I began to become aware, again, of time and danger and duality. I was not the elephant and the elephant was not me. It was also alarming to consider that we might not have a bargain after all. So, with regret and an increasing heart rate, I walked, at a pace just this side of panic, back to the lodge.

    The naturalist was waiting for me with a very stern look on his face. "Where have you been? We have all been looking for you!" I told him about my elephant and he informed me that he was a rogue, "problem" elephant. "He could have killed you!" I had been sitting with my head between my knees waiting for the adrenaline fueled lightheadedness to wear off and raised my head, big smile on my face, and said: How would he have done it?!

    It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and it was not over. That night there was a great thrashing about in the thorny brambles directly outside my window.

    There was a strange and powerful rumbling - not quite a roar but not quite anything else either. It was a sound I had never heard before. In the darkness, I could see nothing and I was far too afraid to explore. When it stopped I went off to find the naturalist who informed me that it had been my elephant.

    I don't know what all of this meant to the elephant but I believe it meant something. In the morning he was out on the plain walking away from the lodge, looking back from time to time. I watched him go. I felt as though I watched a dear friend. I felt a painful sense of loss that I would never see him again. I felt as though I knew him, had known him long before we met on the road. I still do.

    It was more than 15 years ago, during a long period of 80% remission, and I'm happy for this opportunity to think about him again.

    I feel you have said something important about all elephants, "mine" included. Thank you!

    [This Message was Edited on 02/25/2008]
  2. 4everkid

    4everkid New Member

    Wow Rafiki! What a COOOOOL experience!

    I think you and this rogue elephant connected on a deep level. You respected him, and he felt that respect. And because of that, he allowed you to follow him.

    I get the feeling that he was moved by your presence too. He is probably not used to someone as fearless as you coming right up to him like that, filled with a quiet sense of awe and reverence. He is probably more used to these noisy humans squealing and flashing cameras from a distance.

    But you were different. While you were pacing and studying him, he had to be studying you back. Do animals have a sense of telepathy? Could he "hear" your thoughts? On some level he must have known you were different and felt your admiration and wonder. Too bad fear got the best of you resulting in the sudden frantic retreat.

    I think he came that night looking for you, the human he bonded with. They say elephants have incredible memories. It may be that now, 15 years later, he is also remembering you.

    You remind me of how I imagine I would be in the same situation. As a child, I was convinced that if I were to go to Africa and meet up with a lion in the wild, it WOULD LIKE ME. It would feel my love for cats and my sense of awe, and would be my friend. Now, at 49, I still feel that way a little. And if I spotted a wild lion nearby, I would probably do exactly what you did. (I might not live to tell about it though.....)

    That was a great story, and beautifully told! How incredibly lucky of you to have gotten the chance to have an experience like this. Lots of people go to Africa, take the tour, see the sights.... but not many take the untrodden danger-cloaked path that leads to a profound spiritual experience such as yours.

    Thank you for your kind words about my elephant drawing. I am glad he evoked this wonderful memory for you. And thank you for sharing this amazing story!
  3. therealmadscientist

    therealmadscientist New Member

    ! thanks
    [This Message was Edited on 02/25/2008]
  4. doloresf1

    doloresf1 New Member

    You are an inspiration to me! Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience. doloresf1
  5. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Thank you all, so much, for letting me share this with you and for giving it such heartfelt attention. I can only think of this with a very full heart and sharing it is always an intense experience.

    Yes, 4everkid, he came looking for me. The more I learn about elephants, the more certain I am of this.

    It's all more than I can take in, though. Know what I mean? I can't intellectualize this experience very much at all. I can scarcely believe it and yet, it is one of the most intensely real encounters of my life. I feel as though he and I were more in sync with each other than I have been with humans I have known for years.

    This meeting transcended everything I thought I knew about, well, everything. As I said, I cannot grasp it with my intellect. I still feel awe whenever I think of him. I also feel some very real sadness.

    He was alone, rejected by the local matriarchs, and I am filled with his loneliness when I think of him. I know he was aware of me and, therefore, was not alone when we were together. Leaving him was wrenching.

    What I cannot know is why he came back. One is tempted to put only a happy spin on meetings with elephants but his experience might have been very different. Did he grow ever more annoyed with me after we met. Did he regret, in an elephant way, letting our spirits feel such intimacy. Did he come back to lift me in his muscular trunk, slam me into the ground and kill me?

    The thing is, it doesn't matter. For a little while, on the Serengeti, I walked with an elephant and we walked in peace and unity. I will always miss him.

    Thank you all, so very much, for being so tenderly in sync with my elephant and me.


    [This Message was Edited on 02/26/2008]
  6. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    just Terch!
  7. boltchik

    boltchik New Member

    I was absolutely captivated by your story! You described it so well, I could see it all unfolding in my mind. Thanks for sharing, it is a great story. Kim :)
  8. Janalynn

    Janalynn New Member

    All I can say is WOW. I feel honored to have been able to "eavesdrop" on such a special experience.

    You are certainly blessed beyond words to have that moment in your life. When things are rough, I would guess you reflect on that time and realize how fortunate you really are.
    Thank you for sharing!
  9. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Hey there Boltchik,
    It was a great experience. My behaviour was pretty stupid but I can't say I regret it. I wouldn't do it again, though. Not that there's much danger of my being in a situation like that any time soon... a girl can dream, though!

    Take care of you,

    Hi Janalynn,
    Yeah, I have had amazing good fortune. Amazing!

    But, you know, the essence of this experience was just being in the moment and really connecting. It didn't need to be an elephant. It could have been my next door neigbour on my back steps. Last week it was.

    Look out for elephants. They're everywhere.

    Peace to you,