I think about looking at an object up-close, my eyes fixed closely on this object, seeing just one side of the coin and feeling comfortable this way anyway. Another thought also crosses my mind of this group of blind people who were told to touch an elephant and everyone really get the chance to touch a specific part of this enormous animal. One touches the tail, another, the trunk, another, the belly while someone touches the ears. How interesting it is that when finally everyone gets a chance to share what they think an elephant is, everyone has a different story. One claims it is long rod with whiskers and quite firm while the other goes like, “mmmmh…a big flat flap that could be used to fan; and several answers come up including one who just thinks an elephant is one hard, tough, solid block with a rough texture. And so all these answers really reflect from which angle we view life. From which perspective we stand and from which vantage point we are… and this is really our world.
And so, many times, we get into arguments and conflicts with wanting other people to buy into our viewpoints, to think and reason like us without really getting from where they stand. This has become a norm in our society where we force beliefs down people’s throats. We force our opinions on others and make life quite miserable for ourselves actually. And so we create comfort zones of less hurt, less pain and less effort…
A comfort zone is our zone of bliss, our reality of what should be in the world, our point of joy. And so, from this reality of what should be, we conquer the world to make it what we want it to be, sit back and let things pass us by or ignore whatever is happening around us. From whatever angle, conquering the world or sitting back, we create an outcome and the outcome could be desirable or not…
Comfort zones have never brought any meaningfully sustainable change to anyone at all… Actually, world most remembered faces in history had a downfall trying to make the world into their comfort zones of “what the world should be” From Hitler to Napoleon among others…and of course going down colonial lanes of the world.
Not mentioned in history is the other side of the bracket where a majority of people also sit back and let things pass them and letting their dreams and purpose fall by the wayside. The groups who sit back and settle for what the social prescriptions and popular culture determines… The group that follow every wind flow and refuse to question their motives under every circumstance… Or those stuck in doing the same old things from a singular perspective? Believing in their side of the story being the only TRUTH in the world?
And then it’s not about anyone else but me…my perspective, my reality…what informs it…and above all, is it the only one available in the world? And if not, how can we live and interact freely within all these worlds that our minds have so historically built in the name of education and experience?
Education and experience are very significant words in the growth of anyone…and yes… come to think of it, we all learn and experience things every moment of our life and that’s what makes life…right?
How can we use our education and experiences to transform our perspective consciously? Because whether we like it or not, our world changes with every new thing we learn and every new experience we encounter.
Back to my object, back to my elephant story….
We have known fact to exist in our world and what we have experienced… But what if it could be more than?
I mean we can grow up defining an elephant as a long rod with whiskers and explain it to everyone who comes after us or we can spend a day in another person’s reality… But how do we even do that!
From these questions, insight comes, in the form of wanting to retreats, visiting other people from other cultures besides us, travel different communities and living with people up-close…from their world. I mean we have been taught to become so firm in our world that we can change everyone around us, but what of becoming so deep that we can accommodate and transform ourselves and people around us?
What if we can spend a day, a week, or even a month in the perspective of someone else? What if we can step out of our comfort zones and embrace newness in how we do things? What if this was possible?
Well, it’s possible to do so, and fresh and enriching in just how much someone can learn from the self and from others when they step out of the way to see things differently.
But there is a catch, you don’t just go in blindly, but with an intention to learn and transform. Transformation occurs when we trust ourselves well enough to let go of the reigns and know that we are alright to swim. When we really pay attention to what is it that is being said… is it useful right NOW? How about its use in ten years to come…? And how sustainable is it within the context of this fast changing world? These are questions that we must ask ourselves all the time as we embark on transforming our perspectives and learning new things.
So, the next time you get a chance to attend that cool retreat with friends or visit school, remember it’s not enough to share what you have, but also to learn from what is offered…and all these can only happen when we let go of our fears and listen to the other person from their point of view as well. Then we can see the trunk, tail, belly and ears of the elephants… Does it change what the elephant is, not really, just brings more understanding in the room…at the end of the day, an elephant will still be an elephant, whether defined by the tail or the trunk.