Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Elephant in the Well

In late August 2008, a baby elephant fell into a well in north central Sri Lanka. The concerned villagers knocked down a section of the cement well so the elephant could escape. After crawling out, the elephant began charging the very villagers who had rescued it.
I’ve fallen in…into the realm where words define all shapes. Where I truly believe I am Me. I’ve been in here for years, swimming in small circles within this cage. Between breaths I look up and see the sky, I see the people in rags that peer over the sides, throwing down bits of food and small orange flowers. I keep swimming, never quite dying, but never really living. The walls are high….cool and smooth stones form the walls of my circular home. I keep paddling, knowing no other way. There is nothing to grab onto, no crevasse in which to burrow. I’ve fallen into the largest of holes, the water is at my neck, and if it rains, I’ll be covered for sure. I look up from the bottom of a towering well, the light of day is bright and visible. Above, I can hear a few voices, faint and singing soft melodies. They have sent down an orange flower, cradled in the beak of a small song bird. The sky changes, I see blue, then clouds of red, then wisps of passing rainbows. But I am at the bottom, in the hole of water dug deep into the red earth.
My falling…it happened without thought. I cannot remember another way. Was it my first breath which began the fall? I am in deep murky water, and yet, those that offer me help, those that break the walls so I may run and breathe…it is those people I run to destroy. I do not run to the poachers or the politicians, I charge towards the ones closest to me, the ones that still clutch rocks and hammers they used to break me free. These are the ones near my feet, the ones I can kill with a breath. Within me I just cannot see the people that have sacrificed a part of themselves so that I might touch land once again. After their work, after their gifts, I run towards them with all my force, unable to control my habits of the wild.
Truly, I am unaware of my self. I run to kill the first threat. Just a baby, but I see danger everywhere. In the smiling man, in the song I cannot sing. In the fog as it rolls towards me, bringing disguised shadows and darker fears. I am drowning in the waters of my own creation, but I am unable to see the glittering plates stacked high with gifts and knowledge, held by the most beautiful of hands. Take your freedom and use it they chant. But the quest for water does not leave. Thirst deeper than my mouth, thirst deeper than the most water-less of deserts creeps, and I go looking for the watery filled wells. It is my habit to fall. Sometimes I wait for a willing hand, but will they come again? If they do, this time, will I remember their sacrifice?

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