As I sit here days away from taking off to Thailand by way of Tokyo (I just love the sound of those history enriched names) I contemplate, as ever, Life.
I’m sitting in my kitchen, looking out on the backyard, where I just hung out my laundry to dry. The bath towels and one sundress I unpacked from the attic and washed to take with me are whipping in the brisk Spring breeze, and the resulting flurry of colors and shapes has me mesmerized. I love it when the ordinary can transport me to reverie on the vibrancy of life.
I’m perfectly content – for this one moment in time- sitting here in my NJ kitchen on an April Fools Day, enjoying the fluttering of fabric and the play on my senses. I feel healthy and have been able to help out my aging parents in some small ways and that feels great. I had my family, animals and humans, nearby for Easter and still now I feel valued by all of them. That is pricelessly nourishing.
So, why am I going? It’s a short long time to be gone. Short time to actually experience all I want to experience. Long to be away from my animals. I know I have to, need to, experience other perspectives, other views and especially other cultures. To see options. Most of all, to be close to the elephants, on their terms. Whereas a few months ago I would have thrilled to see an image of “elephant trekking” I know now how sad and disturbing a sight that is. What the baby elephants have had to endure to grow up to be “trained”. To take a creature of such intelligence, beauty and sensitivity and subject it to the tactics regularly used in a ritual called the phajeen is beyond my understanding. I can’t bear to write about it quite yet, but here is a link to two fine travelers who explain more about it. http://imranandamber.blogspot.com/search?q=elephant+nature+park
All I can say about it at this point is that is an abhorrent practice and it reeks of slavery and subjugation of the spirit, which will always result in diminished human capacity. When we as a species allow such practices to go unnoticed and unopposed, we become smaller and meaner and it will always come back to haunt us in one way or another.
I will know more once I return. At least a little more. More about the culture, the ancient and wise culture that somehow allowed this practice to be born and to still exist. More about what an elephant feels like, smells like and thinks about all this. I won’t be an expert by any measure, but there is something so tangible and priceless about direct experience. Something, if done with enough authenticity and conviction, that can change your life and is, at the very least, worth more than volumes of book learning. And I love book reading!
Maybe I’ll come back a different person, forever changed by my experiences. Most likely I’ll come back a richer person, still the same but enhanced with a street (or jungle forest) wisdom that is only gained in one way.