There once was a traveler who came across a sight that intrigued him greatly. It was a full grown and very large elephant walking around in circles, only as far as he could walk, around and around in the small circumference that his back leg would let him.
The elephants leg was attached to a small length of rope which was tied to a small wooden peg that was stuck into the ground. The most curious thing to the traveler was that this full grown elephant, weighing several tons, could have easily pulled out the peg and escaped…yet he didn’t…he just walked around and around and never tried to pull out the peg in order to move any farther than his rope allowed. And so the traveler inquired further, and found out that this same elephant had been tied to this same rope and peg since he was just a baby. At that time, he wasn’t strong enough to yank the peg out of the ground no matter how hard he tried, therefore he gave up and eventually he never tried to break free again. He became discouraged, and that discouragement led to hopelessness.
Do we sometimes find ourselves in the same situation as this elephant? Discouraged and Hopeless. Striving with much effort to pull against the peg and failing to do so time and time again, thus instead of moving forward, we move around and around, pacing and never getting anywhere…never moving forward.
At some point in this elephant’s life as a baby he gave up and concluded it was futile to ever try again. Have we ever concluded this same futility within our minds and hearts and then just “given up”? Those parent advocates with children on the Autism Spectrum have felt as this elephant many times as they have struggled hard against the wooden peg that is “Autism”. We can almost imagine ourselves as that baby elephant, remembering the day that we first got the diagnosis that our child had Autism or was somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. We pulled and pulled as hard as we could to break free, to move forward and find success for our child…nothing would stop our struggling against it! We didn’t give up either as we had much stamina in the beginning…we were determined to never, NEVER give up!
The question is however, have we given up? Have we stopped struggling? Does the “peg in the ground hold us still…as it’s prisoner?
The truth is all of us, if we are “real” and “honest” with ourselves, will answer “Yes”. To varying degrees, all of us have been in a state of discouragement and hopelessness haven’t we? The even bigger question is: Do we stay in this state…tied to this wooden peg?
Many of us have struggled against this peg for many years…every day…every hour…every minute, and we are weary, exhausted, and tired. What we may not realize though, is that we have grown! In all the time we have been struggling, and without noticing, we have gained strength! We may not even realize it, and still view ourselves as “baby elephants”, but much time has past and through our struggles…we have gained the stamina to pull out the peg. However, the key is believing that we actually can move forward. Without the hope and optimism we once had in the beginning, we will never, ever try. Do we believe we can?
Oftentimes, to believe in oneself requires the assistance of others. We need support! Others may need to hold up a mirror to us and show us just how strong we have become, and just how capable we really are. Sometimes we need to see someone else tied to a peg just like ours and yet have broken free…then in turn, they show us that it CAN be done.
It is noteworthy that this elephant that the traveler came across, was all alone, without any other elephants around…he was isolated. Sometimes, in our struggles, we tend to isolate ourselves…DON’T!
We absolutely need the support of others to keep on mustering up our optimism and hope!
The support of others in our same situation, and with pegs of their own, is vital…as vital as breath is to life and therefore breathes life back into our attitude and keeps the discouragement from getting the best of us.
Can we see with our minds eye, pulling the peg out of the ground? We may always carry with us the rope and peg, as it may always be attached to us, and then again it could fall off as we keep moving forward…Nevertheless…
Keep moving forward!
Never, ever give up!