Elephants are some of my favorite animals. When I was little I marveled at them in the zoo, was fascinated by their acrobatic antics when the circus came to town, and at times rode on their backs – squealing in delight as I hung on for dear life. But never have I revered them more than when I experienced them up close and personal in East Africa in the late fifties.
It was a time when all the magnificent wild animals of Africa roamed free and untamed in their own habitats. They were plentiful and they were majestic and to a spell-bound teenager in a small 4-door sedan, with only a camera to shoot pictures of their magnificence, they were gigantic, powerful, awe-inspiring, sometimes terrifying and they always commanded the right of way. I’m so grateful to have experienced them in the wild, up close and in such great numbers – sometimes too close for comfort, but that’s a story for another time.
Of course I’ve never had a real elephant on my plate, nor have I ever tasted elephant meat, or felt inclined to, but I’ve figuratively eaten many in my time! In this adventure we call life there is always a proverbial elephant lurking in the background waiting to be consumed, and the only way to do it is one bite at a time. We all know there’s no swallowing an elephant whole…it’s not possible and it’s not smart to think we can.
To me the proverbial “elephant” is any challenge in your life that is perceived as large, daunting and overwhelming. Maybe your elephant is weight loss, or tackling that post graduate course, or paying off debt that’s run rampant. For some it could be writing a book or painting a picture or starting a business – or running a marathon – or……??? What’s the elephant lurking in the shadows, and standing in the way of YOUR life?
Thanks to our instant gratification society, no matter what it is we desire to have, be or do, we not only want, but demand immediate results. We’ve been conditioned to expect nothing less. This is so sad! Whatever happened to the idea that anything worth having is worth waiting for and working toward, and that the journey along the road to success is supposed to be appreciated as a learning opportunity and something of great value.
I am disturbed by a lack of will in an ever-increasing number of people I encounter. More and more, I see an unwillingness to take on that elephant bite by bite. There’s a pervasive attitude that if it can’t be swallowed in one gulp (and we know it can’t) there is no appetite for it at all. Desire to try vanishes – sometimes never to return. Many give up before they start and in doing so reject the opportunity to engage and overcome challenges that serve to make them stronger, and goodness alone knows, in this world we need to be strong to survive.
I see too many denying themselves the thrill of the hunt, the joy of success and ultimately the satisfaction of accomplishment because success isn’t instant or doesn’t come as fast as they think it should. This is the way dreams are lost and hopes fade away.
Let us recapture those dreams and take back our hope. Take on that elephant! Let us always remember that running a marathon begins with one small step, take it! Then take another, followed by another and over time, miles are conquered. An artist creates his painting one brush stroke at a time. Fifty pounds of fat didn’t go on in a day and it won’t come off overnight – try one pound at a time. Think about it – if you lose a pound a week, in a year you’ll have lost 52 pounds!
The most amazing of books started with a single blank page and a creative idea. One written word penned on the page, followed by another and another, until finally a great book is authored. That credit card debt? Make one payment here and one payment there. Lots of little! That’s what we call “eating the elephant one bite at a time!”
What’s your elephant? The one you refuse to eat. You know it’s lurking in the shadows driving you nuts! Think about it. Take that first bite – don’t let another day go by! Go on, get started – make a stab at that elephant on your plate. Take pleasure in the dining experience. Savor each bite and then revel in the sense of fullness and satisfaction when you complete your objective!
Bit by bit, bite by bite you consume the elephant – it’s so worth making a start!
“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” Ezra 10:4