don’t think of that elephant

i can’t stop thinking about that elephant. in the story pieced together thru video and rumor and spirit, the elephant’s babies were poached, and there was a woman who threw stones at the elephant mother to keep her from saving her children. so the elephant waited and found this woman at a watering hole, trampled her to death, rolled with a crew to her funeral and swung her corpse out of the casket to trample her again, and then they went and destroyed her house.

i went researching because the story is so tender to me. those who check facts say that so far it could be true, though no one is clear on how to verify that it was the same elephant, that it was specific targeting.

elephants and humans have a tension in india, rooted in competing needs over the land that has been the elephants’ territory.

the story is working like a prism in my mind, i tilt it gently and see so much humanity in it, so many parents broken hearted at losing their babies to violence, so many people enraged at their ongoing displacement, so many people ready to say ‘no more.’

but then i spin this prism and see the whole earth trying to communicate to us, the humans, that we are not the only ones who feel and think and deserve to live and love our babies and strategize for survival.

if the story is true, it connects to the parts of us that protect those we love and flood with vengeance when they are harmed – we can touch an anthropomorphic empathy.

if its not true that this woman and this elephant had history, what remains true is that humans are encroaching on a shared world as if our needs are always the priority. it makes every kind of sense to me that, if we don’t swiftly adapt to be co-occupants of this generous planet, we will not only face the challenges of increasing climate catastrophe, already dire…we will also invite the wrath of everything else that can feel.

any sentient heart, broken repeatedly, can become a sharp edge.

i also keep thinking of this story as an epic tale of spiritual battle. the elephant is a goddess of the entire nonhuman earth, protecting its future. the woman is a complicit player in acts of egregious and selfish violence, not the leader, just someone who throws rocks because thats what humans do. she represents the majority of humans, going along with human-centric behavior that has devastating effects. the elephant is her death and our warning.

is the elephant/spirit wise enough to understand that it has to be dramatic and documented, to be viral, to be heard?

are we able to receive the warning at the level of spirit – that there is nothing funny here, only grief and rage and power and message?

or am i projecting all my own climate grief and rage onto this wild creature, whose motives are actually mysterious to me? am i again trying to spread human life into every space, even that of empathy and imagination and the motivations of elephants?

i don’t know.

but i know that the elephant story in this moment, in the wake of uvalde, in the emotional waters preceding juneteenth, during pride, in the hot and cold flash climate catastrophe season we are still calling summer, it feels important. it feels like we should all think about it.

are we the woman? the elephant? the earth beneath, receiving her blood and her force? the funeral guests running away in panic? could we be the force trying to stop the constant harm in every direction? or is there no us here, simply an obsessed observer, projecting her heart out, 8,500 miles away?

Author: Adrienne

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your uprising against the forces of darkness has got to do more than say "no." A fierce, primal yes should be at the heart of your crusade. (rob brezny, long ago)

2 thoughts on “don’t think of that elephant”

  1. I am so very excited to hear of you through OnBeing!!! I was raised evangelical but have been deconstructing since my teens. I had debilitating OCD and anxiety off and on for 25 years. I hit rock bottom in 2019 after two half-hearted suicide attempts and got a “removal miracle”, to quote Glennon Doyle. Since then, I have continued healing through the use of podcasts on the Enneagram (ian crohn), ‘We can do hard things’, OnBeing and also, I micro-dose with cannibus to heal from trauma related to my upbringing. BUT, the main reason I’m writing is that my husband and I bought a dilapidated house on 5 acres in a floodplain in Austin, TX and we are doing regenerative agriculture and I AM SO EXCITED to hear about YOU because I have emotionally healed so much from raising meat birds (chicken) for the past two years and you talk of the healing power of just getting one plant to survive! I never planned to farm but was a high school teacher in low-income areas for 4 years until I burned out. Then, I floated around and met my husband at my youngest sister’s wedding in ’06 and have lived in Austin for the past 15 years while raising my 2 darling daughters who are 12 and 13 and keep me honest and young and fun-ish. I AM SO VERY EXCITED to know that someone like you exists!!! I went no contact with my family of origin last year but I remain close friends with some aunts and uncles and my husband’s family as well. I have such an amazing story of healing, soul healing and also some really direct interventions by God to help me get a handle on the OCD around decision-making, etc. My husband is a very determined partner and helped me finally, see the narcissism in my family along with a friend from a former church we attended.

    I cannot wait to talk to you!!!

  2. Sleeping with an earbud in, I woke up this morning to you speaking with Krista Tippet. Then I started consciously listening to your conversation and wanted to know more about you. This is my first visit to your site and am even more intrigued by your thoughts and point of view.

    The story of the elephant wakes me up to different way of thinking about conflict and our climate crisis. I look forward to learning more from you.

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