Friday, November 9, 2018

A Dog's Eye: Vietnam part 3 (faith in elephants)

Every now and then the elephant driver would appear to get a little frustrated with the beast beneath him. He was sitting on the elephant's neck, one leg on each side with his knees cocked behind the pachyderm's huge ears. When it slowed down or stopped, the driver would bounce on its neck and nudge it behind the ears while repeating some words of "encouragement".

I was with my mother and my daughter on the elephant. We sat in a relatively comfortable howdah with an umbrella to protect us from the sun. I was not worried about this journey even though I didn't know where we were going and how long exactly we would be gone. The other two passengers were far less sanguine. We traveled down a road through a lakeside village, in Vietnam's central highlands, and then entered the lake down a steep "ramp". Occasionally, the water was up to the elephant's shoulders which left our feet just above the water line.

We wore life jackets in case of an accident, and I'll admit there were a couple of times when I thought we might be having an unplanned swim. After roughly half an hour we finished our ride and climbed down on to solid ground, connected to it by the security of our own feet.

It required an element of faith for us to ride this mighty creature. We had to believe that it would behave itself, and if it didn't, that the driver would be able to control it. Being a visitor in an overseas nation, and being able to enjoy that experience also requires some faith. Control ebbs away under the direction of locals who, despite some language obstacles, we trust. In our case, my wife was in complete control and what a champion she was. She did an amazing job of organizing things for us and protecting us from being ripped off. It was relatively easy to trust her. I mean I married her, so...

Nevertheless, there is a sense in which having to trust others makes us feel uncomfortable. Allowing others to make decisions for us, takes away our power, it violates our independence. For some people, the land of interdependence is a foreign country they have never visited- nor do they wish to. Taking risks with their safety based solely on the assurances of others is anathema to them.

How much is lost to a person who allows fear and/or a desire to stay in control rule their lives?

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