A SUNDAY MORNING, the little Rosan was taken to the circus by his father. Throughout the show he was pleasantly surprised by almost all the acts and acrobatics, both the circus men and the animals. But when he got out of the circus yard, next to a tent, he saw the enormous elephant standing sadly. On the neck of this great creature a rope was hanging attached to the ground by a simple wooden stake.
– Daddy, daddy!! the child said. Why does the elephant look sad?
– Because it’s captive son, and its place is out there, away from these hills, in the wild.
– And then… why doesn’t it go?
– Because it’s tied up, son!
– Daddy, daddy! But it’s tied up to a small wooden stake. With force it must have, it would surely break it in a minute!
– I think so, too, son. The father said, smiling.
– But then why doesn’t it escape, dad?!
– That, my son, I don’t know.
All day long the child asked everyone why doesn’t the elephant release itself, having everything it needs to succeed.
From his playground friends to the uncles, aunts, grandparents and all the other mature people he met that day. But no one knew the answer to his question.
In the evening before supper, the father found his child standing alone in the garden, looking far away, where the animals live freely.
– You’re still thinking about the elephant, son?
Yes and no… I was thinking rather about my stupid question, that there is no answer for.
– My dear, there is no such thing as stupid questions, nor questions without an answer!
So he took him in his arms, he let his wife know they were going to be a little late for dinner, and they left. On the same way they had walked in the morning to the circus, his father looked at him and said:
– If there are questions that keep coming back in your mind and you can’t find an answer, that does not mean they don’t have one, but maybe you aren’t looking for them in the right place.
Getting to the circus, they found a man sweeping the yard, and the father told the child:
– Look, there’s a man you can ask.
– But dad, we came up here to ask an animal keeper of the circus when even grandpa, who is a doctor, didn’t know the answer?
– Son, never underestimate the wisdom of a man, and, more than that, do not let your mind be closed by the illusion of what you think you see. You see just a keeper… I see instead an old man who has spent a lifetime in the circus! In my opinion, he knows more about these animals than your grandfather might know, just like grandpa knows more about healing people than we do.
Everyone in this world knows something more than another, and no man knows everything. Now go and ask him, and see if I’m right.
A few minutes later, the child returned to his father and thanked him for the lesson of life. The father replied:
– Now, if you found out, it’s your turn to teach me why the elephant does not escape.Å
The child told him what he had just heard from the old man with the broom.
Dad, it seems that the elephant tried to escape since day one, but he was too small and the stake was then too big. After a year it kept trying to escape, but the rope and the stake were too strong for him. It seems that
he understood then that it was impossible to get away. And it really was, when he was small…
Meanwhile, the elephant grew but no one told him he was now strong enough to break free.
– You see, son, I want you to remember this day and what you learned today when you grow up. And remember that, if now there is something you can’t do, that doesn’t mean that over time you will not be able to do it. If you wish for something you have to try until you succeed. For there is no unattainable desire but only strong or temporary desires. Now let’s go home to teach those who will want to hear what you’ve just learned.
1 Inspired by CONTEMPORARY LEGEND , The elephant and the rope.