I haven’t had much time for leisurely reading since I’ve begun this Doctoral program so when I read something for class that strikes a chord I get elated because its like a buy one get one sale; pleasure and purpose for just the price of purpose. Or something like that. This one article I read was called “Shooting an Elephant,” and it was written by George Orwell. You may know him as he wrote a little book called 1984, or maybe Animal Farm, ringing any bells? In the article he, being a British officer policing a Bermese village, is called upon to handle this elephant who has broken loose of captivity and is causing an uproar in the town. Two things stood out to me about this story:
- “Various Burmans stopped me on the way and told me about the elephant’s doings. It was not, of course, a wild elephant, but a tame one which had gone “must.”It had been chained up, as tame elephants always are when their attack of “must” is due, but on the previous night it had broken its chain and escaped” I found it interesting that freedom, or really the audacity to seize it was called “must”. The elephant refused his circumstance and the community’s language called attention to the fact that this phenomenon was one of necessity. Must. I then wondered if at some point we all become elephants gone “must”; I believe this is when we leave the house of shoulds, or the chains of expectation. That, to me, is freedom and some people may look at it as wild. They have not yet gone must.
“The sole thought in my mind was that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would see mepursued, caught, trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse like that Indian up the hill. And ifthat happened it was quite probable that some of them would laugh. That would never do…And afterwards I was very glad that the coolie had, been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the, elephant. I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid, looking a fool.” I asked myself out loud after reading this, the conclusion of the article, “How many things have I done to avoid looking a fool?”
Tonight in class we touched upon a lot of topics but overwhelmingly we discussed perspective and internal messages. We can often interpret things a certain way and
sometimes most things simply are, but it is the meaning that we assign to them that makes them dynamic in our lives. I thought immediately of the Hawaiian value of Ho’oponopono which is a healing/cleansing tool. Dr. Hew Len used ho’oponopono to work with a group of the criminally insane, in mental health facilities for committing violent crimes yet pleading insane. Before the ho’oponopono violence was a huge problem among the patients, and safety was a concern for the staff. Afterwards, however, arm and foot restraints no longer had to be used and violence was practically non-existent within the facility. When asked how he treated the inmates Dr. Len said, “I didn’t heal them, I healed the part of myself that created them.” (source) How absolutely breath-taking is that? I healed the part of myself that created them. I did not change my mother. I changed the part of myself that created the person I perceive my mother to be. I do believe this is how I grew to forgive my father and could repair our relationship. I did not know about ho’oponopono then, but perhaps on some level I knew the work.
Each week we are asked to set an intention for the class. After a very emotional and affect charged class last week, my intention was to not be so personally invested in the work but to take a step back so that I might listen to hear rather than to listen for meaning. I believe because of my intention and my step back I lost my personal investment in the discussion and could better enjoy it, truly ingesting each comment and feeling the true weight of every sentiment. Before comments either felt too heavy or too light, and that paired with my expectation and my own personal tie to the purpose of the class was making it a miserable experience for me. I was grateful for this week and I was grateful for allowing myself the space to reflect and really work through my annoyances in order to heal the part of myself that created them. I was grateful for the peace I allowed myself by going must.