These past few weeks have been a little tense on planet Earth, what with our near escape from the Apocalypse and pending Rapture. Still, there has been a bit of turmoil that has caused quite a few people to explode in anger or frustration. So this week, I decided on a lighter approach to things.
When I was a young girl and most of my friends were eagerly reading romance novels and teen magazines, I had my nose buried in an animal book. I was fascinated by every aspect of nature. Strange, perhaps, but animals do teach us a lot about ourselves and humanity.
In nature, everything is connected. If you hold up a leaf, you notice that the veins that nurture the plant are similar to the arteries and veins within our bodies. Native Americans believe that everything is a circle. If we observe the smallest or largest things within the sacred hoop of our world, we can see our reflections in that mirror.
So I stopped to consider the majestic elephant. They once numbered in the millions, but their population has been reduced to less than 1 million due to poaching and the lack of habitat. That alone could foretell our fate if we do not take better care of the earth. Yet the elephant can teach us simple lessons to living.
The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months. Any human mother will tell you that that is a long time to be pregnant. Yet the graceful animal moves along in life, bearing this with the appearance of serenity. This is something to think about when the text you are waiting for takes longer than five minutes, the doctor or hairdresser is behind or as you wait on a freeway clogged up from an accident.
Elephants often have to walk many miles in the dust and heat for food and water. That same fortitude is asked of many people now as they struggle to find suitable employment and sustain their families. The group or tribal community is the way to go, as it allows people to work together and help each other.
This may upset a few people, but the elephant group is ruled by an older female with a peaceful and less forceful approach. There is also a little more nurturing and respect, and the elders are taken care of and the young ones are looked after by the entire herd. If we look today’s patriarchal human approach to things, with a "kick butt first and ask questions later attitude," perhaps it might be nicer to try a softer line for a change. Just consider that matriarchal and patriarchal attitudes do not have to be gender-based in the human world.
Elephants have been tragically impacted by humans. The ivory trade has devastated millions of these beautiful animals over the years. Much more of the population has been affected by deforestation and overcrowding of people into their habitat. Yet elephants continue as they have, living in balance with nature the best they can. They teach us to observe the loss of species and to be aware of our own destination. The lesson to consider as well is the cruelty some people have toward humanity and to other beings that share this beautiful planet. What are we to do about that?
Beware of Musth
Musth is a period that some male elephants go through, perhaps at the time to rut, or mate. It may be caused by chemicals secreted along the elephants temple. During this period the enraged bull is a danger to other elephants and even to humans. The other elephants see the bull’s condition and stay away. They teach us to note the conditions of our leaders, politicians and other people in society. When they seem out of line, we should not simply follow them blindly or ignore the signs. Stand up for the tribe and protect others, whether it means telling your brother to stop beating his wife and kids or to tell yourself to move away from a prejudice or an unhealthy attitude.
A Little Water, Please
Elephants take great pleasure in play and can actually laugh in their own way. One of their great enjoyments is bath and swim time. Humans finding joy in life can ease up on their tension. Elephants teach us that the best things in life are our connections with each other. Say what you like about elephants … they are pretty cool.