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E is for Elephant

We got an interesting assignment in yonder writing workshop the other day. Here ... you play too!

1. Take a piece of paper and write down the letters A-Z, one letter per line.

2. Write down the first word you think of that that starts with each of those letters.

3. Use each of these words a header and write the story of your life in twenty-six little sections.

I've only got the first half-dozen sections done so far ... but it's an interesting experiment. How does one begin the story of oneself with 'aardvark'?

Anyway, here's one that I sorta liked ...



I guess my first elephant was Dumbo. Or maybe there was one in “The Jungle Book”. No, that was bears. The Bare Necessities … *cue Baloo and sing along … “forget about your worries and your strife* …

I think that was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema … although we didn’t call it the cinema when we were kids. It still sounds kind of pretentious … going to the ‘cinema.’ To me, it’s still just going to the movies … but we don’t say that here in London, and one does one’s best to assimilate.

The most recent elephants were last spring, when we went to Kenya. Wild elephants on the plains of the Masai Mara. Mothers standing over playful babies. The equivalent of teenagers testing out their tusks, pretending to fight with each other. Thick, leathery skin folded around the biggest, most soulful eyes. Some of them looked like they were crying. Our guide told us that they grieve. Elephants will stand in silence in the places where their relatives have died. They’ll ruminate over bones of their loved ones. They protect their own, living on a land that offers little protection.

I have never been so humbled, sitting in that jeep, watching the world of “The Lion King” stretch out in front of me, with more color, sound and beauty than any animation or orchestra could provide. How did I ever end up in this amazing setting, so far away from everything that I’d come to believe in as ‘the real world’? And then I realized that, like the elephants, I had tears in my eyes as well. Not tears of grief but of joy and gratitude.

I quickly wiped my eyes and put on my sunglasses. I wondered if elephants get embarrassed.