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Sunday, June 3, 2018

An Elephant Gets a Bath


Photo via Pixabay (Creative Commons CC0)

If you were to give an elephant a bath, it would be quite the undertaking.

Of course, in the wild, an elephant can bathe herself, perhaps rolling around in mud and using her trunk to wash it off her back.

But on the occasion that she might submit to being given a bath—or somehow be forced into the proposition, as in captivity—she'd stand or lie there as you hosed her down, huffing and puffing over the task, wiping your brow and shaking your head at the magnitude of it all.

She'd hold steady as you patted her backside, maybe a little too aggressively, as you would with a dog or even a horse who kind of likes it rough.

An elephant, however, is a gentle and sensitive beast. Her skin may be thick and tough, but some parts are paper-thin—and no matter where you touch her, she can feel your exasperation.

She doesn't understand what you're saying, but she knows you don't enjoy the work.

Maybe she's even ashamed. This is no day at the spa for her—at best, it's a trip through the car wash.

If you were bathing an elephant, though, you wouldn't expect her to do anything but submit and obey. You would rinse her off completely, not send her off to do it herself and then, when she hadn't reached all the farthest spots sufficiently, parade her on a walk of shame to go back and do it over again.

You would understand that elephants can be quite large, and their size isn't funny. No elephant wants to be the butt of your jokes for something she can't control.

The elephant may not understand the exact origin of your humor, but she understands body language, and she knows when it's mocking her.

She may mimic you, but it's only to bond with you.

She feels deeply—both grief and rage. Perhaps she grieves her dignity... and rages at disrespect.

But you expect her to be silent all the same.

She'll live as long as you. Her brain is structured similarly to yours. And maybe one day, she'll enact her revenge.

She can learn how to solve problems, even when her problem is you.

But make no mistake—these aren't her instincts. She wasn't born knowing how to fight to survive. You've taught her this, with every bath you've given her.

Related Posts:
In Captivity
Casting My Fears Aside