When an elephant is born into captivity, the owner ties the animal to a tree or post with a thick chain to prevent the 250-pound infant from escaping. During the first few weeks of his life, the small elephant tests the chain that binds him, again and again, in an attempt to free himself and wander as his nature urges him to do. His efforts, however, are no match for steel links. Over the course of a few weeks, he eventually learns that his resources are no match for the hardiness of the chain. He gives up any further attempts to free himself, and thus relegates himself to a life within a small circle.
As an adult elephant conditioned by a past experience, he can now be tethered to a small tree with the thinnest of ropes or, in some cases, no rope at all. He makes no attempts to wander because he carries with him, for life, the belief that he does not possess the power to break the ties that bind him. The adult elephant could easily snap the rope or uproot the tree to which it is attached, but he makes no such effort, because early in life, he was taught that true freedom was not available to him. For the remainder of his life, he is tame and nothing like the captivating, powerful creature he was born to be.
Much of what we experience today as adults comes from our conditioning while growing up. Pablo Picasso said ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’. We had so much possibilities as kids but society talked us out of it.’ Come on, don’t be silly, you will never makes it as a singer’ , ‘be realistic, no one has ever done that before’, ‘just get a proper job and have a normal life’ .
Remember when you wanted to be an astronaut, visit Mars as a kid? Now all you do is fill some spreadsheet and send emails.
The tamed elephant breaks that chain the day he tries to wander and the chain breaks. If he never tries, he will forever be bound to the tree.