Elephant Wisdom

Len, Willa, and I were out on a walk and saw an estate sale sign. While they stayed outside, I went in. As I perused the many items, I overheard the estate sale woman telling another Lookie Lou that the 95-year-old woman who’d resided there was alive and well, but had decided to relocate to Florida.

While blatantly eavesdropping, my eye caught a small, glass, cobalt blue elephant holding court over the living room from the white-painted brick hearth of a fireplace. A minimalist, I don’t acquire many “things,” but she now resides in my writing studio.

It’s interesting to note that elephant wisdom includes the art of listening. An animal with large ears and a comparatively small mouth, we learn that we would do well to listen and speak in those proportions.

During this holiday season, some spiritual traditions read and sing about the three wise men and the gifts they brought to the Christ child. In fact, the giving of gifts has become a tradition among many people, regardless of their faith background.

I’m learning about the gifts of elephant wisdom. They include awareness, confidence, dignity, environmental protection, guardianship, family love, happiness, kindness, listening, longevity, patience, reliability, stamina, and wisdom.

Which of these gifts do you resonate with most?

© lauriebuchanan.com

71 thoughts on “Elephant Wisdom

  1. Very good qualities and gifts. I can see why you felt attracted to the elephant. At the moment, although of them are necessary, I could particularly with listening, patience, stamina and reliability. Have a lovely holiday season, Laurie and readers and bloggers everywhere.

  2. I’ll pick guardianship from your list, Laurie. That’s an unusual one for me. But I am thinking of having Owen and Julia in our home for five days while their parents take some vacation time in Rome. We will guard these precious ones with our own lives. The film Manchester by the Sea is on my mind too. The role played by Casey Affleck is that of reluctant guardian. I am also thinking of our Republic and how all of us need to be guardians of our precious liberties and the liberties of others.

  3. They used to say, “An elephant never forgets.” Since I have a good memory, my husband used to call me “old elephant brain.” I took it totally as a compliment. He stopped calling me that years ago…and I just realized I kind of miss it. I asked him about it and he laughed at the memory…and he’s not sure why he stopped. As a teacher and now a Tour Director, my memory is a big part of my “skill set.”

  4. Patience vies with environmental protection for me just now, given our current political peril. My grandmother collected elephants. As I recall, it tied in with her die-hard Republican identity. (Wait. No rocks please. Today’s Republican party is not my Grandmother’s GOP!) She eventually added owls another wisdom animal. I don’t know if she was aware of the symbolism of these animals. For reasons I can only guess at, she was secretive and didn’t disclose anything about what things meant to her.

    No, wait. I like the happiness aspect best. I’m not hearing way more angst and dread than happiness lately, especially online. I refuse to surrender my happiness! So I send the world the gift of happiness, most especially during this season of joy.

  5. It’s hard to choose. They are all such positive gifts. Most important to me would be family love, but that requires many of the other traits: patience, reliability, listening, and, hopefully, wisdom — sometimes realized more in hindsight. The one I would wish more of is “awareness,” both of what’s going on around me and self-awareness — the latter among the hardest to achieve. I think of Burns’ poem “To a Louse,” for which I won’t get the accent right! “Ah the gift that God would gee (give) us to see ourselves as others see us.”

  6. Love your wisdom spirit elephant! All the gifts you listed are vital right now. As you know I am on a friends board for a local wildlife refuge, so environmental protection is high on my list. Awareness is also very high on my list because if I’m aware and awake then I am able to respond to what is needed in the moment. I believe elephants are also known for what as humans we might call compassion. And, they can be fiercely protective or aggressive when needed. So, right now I’m for fierce compassion which may mean saying a strong “no” when others in our human, animal or environmental herd are being attacked, mistreated, hurt, or minimalized in any way.
    I am hanging on to a winter teaching from Pam Weiss a Buddhist teacher, she recently wrote,
    “Each act of potent love is a prayer, a story, a song; each stitch we make is a testament to our undaunted resilience and undying faith. Faith that while, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” that there can be no justice without our wholehearted participation. The moral universe needs us. Now.” She wrote further, “Be kind. But do not be silent.”
    Elephants, despite their size, can be amazingly gentle (kind). And, they do not suffer the negative actions of those who mean them harm.
    Fierce compassion is my intention for 2017.

    • Audrey — And if I’m not mistaken (I could be), elephants are one of the few animals (humans included) that cry—shed tears.

      FIERCE COMPASSION — “saying a strong “no” when others in our human, animal or environmental herd are being attacked, mistreated, hurt, or minimalized in any way.”

      I hold this dear.

  7. Laurie, we’ve often heard that elephants have long memories, that elephants never forget. That being said, I would have to choose guardianship over our natural resources, most particularly in the cases of water and the air we breathe. Back in the 60’s and 70’s both elements were being badly abused by industrial and agrobiz corporations. With no firm guidelines in place to hold them responsible for the harm done in the name of the Profit, they ran willy-nilly over the rights of the rest of the Planet, poisoning the atmosphere and the rivers, lakes and oceans. With the formation of the EPA in the U.S. and other watch-dog organizations, clean air and clean water became the rallying point for environmentalists the world over. Today we breathe much cleaner air in the cities and the fish are no longer dying of toxic waste water released into our waterways. We remember, as does the elephant, that the balance of Nature is and will always be a delicate situation. Love that jolly, little figure!

    • Sandi — excellent, Excellent, EXCELLENT observation.

      Like you, I believe that every single one of us has an undeniable responsibility to be good stewards of the earth—the place we live and call home.

    • This is a lovely sentiment and Im so glad you raised it. I too remember those unrestrained days before our first earth day and the creation of the EPA. I want to add another important reason for the EPA. There are business owners and CEOs who want to do the right thing, environmentally. But when these acts are voluntary (meaning no regulation) it creates an unfair advantage for those who pollute. The EPA plays a unique and important role in maintaining a level playing field so that businesses with a conscience don’t go out of business.

  8. Laurie, I shall have a humble portion of each of these wisdoms and share them with great abandon in my ordinary everyday 🙂 All the best of the holidays to you and Len and Willa and your family!

    • Terrill — I can picture you, bright red paint apron on, flinging wisdom (like paint off a brush) with great abandon. And a lovely picture it creates!

      The Happiest of Holidays, and JoyFULLest of New Years to you and yours!

  9. All but perhaps guardianship as that doesn’t resonate with me right now, at least what I think it means. Certainly, family love, listening, wisdom and awareness – not just on my part as sometimes I feel I am clueless about what is going on around me – and that is because there is too much, but also for others to have awareness of who and what are around them, in particular vehicle drivers be aware of those on foot or on bicycle and don’t drive if you drink. With awareness I think comes another trait mentioned – kindness. If we are more aware of who and what are around us, maybe we would be a little kinder to others and step in to help in some way if needed.

  10. Your blue elephant is beautiful, Laurie.
    It’s amazing the lessons animals can teach us if we only listen.
    It’s hard for me to pick from such a list–they are all so important, in my eyes. Sorry.
    Happy Holidays

  11. Hi Laurie,

    Your writings today bring so many different thoughts to me.

    Part of me rejects some of the idea Elephant wisdom.
    I accept that elephants can be very intelligent.
    I accept that they have long memories and complex social systems.
    The really deep question is, does any of that complexity really deserve the title “wisdom”?

    Of the values you shared, they all resonate with me.
    And the one that is most important is the idea of family.
    How big are people willing to make their family?
    Is it just partner, parents and children?
    Is it wider kin living nearby (tribe)?
    Is it the community that they live in?
    Is it the district, the nation, the planet?
    Is it restricted just to human beings sharing a mostly common genetic heritage, or does family include any entity capable of modeling itself and others within a model of reality and capable of language and choice between possible future projections based upon the model they have?

    For me, seeing evolution in a context of the stategies present in the levels of systems present; it is clear that all major advances in the complexity of living systems occur when new levels of cooperation emerge from the previous level. And raw cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation by cheating strategies, so at every new level, new and every emergent sets of anti-cheating strategies are required, in order to sustain both cooperation and diversity.

    For me it is clear that most of our emotions, most of our cultural systems of beliefs (particularly those around fairness and honour) are precisely these sorts of stabilising, anti-cheating strategies. And there is always a sort of intellectual arms race involves, with potential cheating strategies emerging, requiring new levels of awareness and strategy to bring stability to the cooperative.
    And cooperatives may be very diverse. It is possible to sustain cooperatives with as little as two core common value sets (individual life and individual liberty).

    For me, our cultural systems have reached a critical point in our evolution.
    The major social organising system is the idea of money, of markets, of exchange.
    When most things were genuinely scarce that idea made a lot of sense.
    But our ability to automate things has been doubling rapidly (every year), for a very long time.
    The vast majority of people have shared very little of that.

    It is now the very idea of markets, of exchange value, of getting more value than you give, that threatens our very survival.

    Giving gifts is great.
    We all enjoy giving, without necessarily getting anything material in return.
    Often, the act of contribution is its own reward.

    Our automated systems now have the ability to give the essentials of life and liberty (air, water, food, education, transport, shelter, transport, communication) to every person on the planet – yet most remain in poverty and ignorance, mostly because of beliefs in a scarcity based mythology of markets and the sort of value that markets measure.

    I have very little time for religions, yet I have a great deal of respect for the person hinted at as the Jesus of history, who spoke of universal acceptance, and universal cooperation. A good jewish lad who spent a bit of time alone in the desert thinking about things then came back and spoke out about what seemed obvious to him.
    From my perspective his explanatory framework (god and heaven) was far from accurate, but the many of the principles he came up with have a certain timeless quality to them that are as applicable in the reality that seems most probable to me, as they were to the cultural reality of his day.

    So I resonate with all of those values in a sense, and beyond them and all encompassing of them is the notion of the commonality of all self aware entities, whatever their origin, and the power and possibility of cooperation at the highest levels.

    After 50 years of exploration of systems, I am confident, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that cooperation will always deliver safer and more prosperous long term outcomes than competition (however advantageous competitive systems look in the short term).

    Wishing you and Len and your wider family of people and puppies a very merry and prosperous future.

    • Ted — My takeaway from your keen contribution is, “…the power and possibility of cooperation at the highest levels.” The inherent value of this is beyond measure.

      Peace, Joy, and Health to You and Yours! 🙂

  12. I have always been drawn to elephant wisdom. kindness, listening, environmental protection, family….they all touch my very being. What a wonderful discovery and purchase.

    Happiest of holidays to you and your readers

    I want to thank you for coming to my blog and making a comment on almost all my book reviews this year – I so appreciate your time taken and your responses. Since I have not been able to fix the problem with my book covers not showing up…I get almost zero comments, though the dashboard says I have about 300 views per month. Sometimes feels a bit lonely 🙂

    Merry Merry Happy Happy

  13. No white elephant for you, Laurie. You are true blue, promoting creative flair, self-awareness, and environmental health. (See, I learned something from Note to Self!) From your cornucopia I’ll pick wisdom, listening, and patience – all of which I’ve had to draw upon during this year of major change.

    Happy Holy-days to you, Len, Evan and Willa!

  14. I don’t think I could choose just one. They are all interconnected, aren’t they? Perhaps knowing that you need them all is understanding elephant wisdom?
    Wishing you a happy holiday season!

  15. What a lovely little object and blue is my favourite colour! Small enough for motorhome too!
    I think I resonate with the gifts of environmental protection, family love and stamina. 👍💜

  16. What a lovely elephant. I love cobalt blue. I think there are three words of elephant wisdom that resonate the most with me…Family Love…leads to an Awareness of their needs…and ends in Kindness to each other. I bought two inexpensive elephant watches this year. I love them. Now, when I look at them, thanks to your post Laurie, I will remember to have big ears and a small mouth. I am sure I will have a lot less to regret if I listen more and speak less in 2017.

    • Timelesslady — I enjoyed reading your “line of connection” way of thinking: Family Love to Awareness of Needs to Kindness.

      Mid-2017 you’ll have to write a post on your blog about how your elephant watches are working as reminders to listen more and speak less 🙂

  17. Ohhhhh such powerful words …kindness , reliability and wisdom .
    Kindness is addictive have you noticed ? We are born with our bodies over brimming with it but it isn’t till we arrive at adulthood we choose to use it . One act of kindness can turn the whole world upside down .
    Reliability is to trust someone always to turn up , to never let you down . How many people let us down over our life ? Many right ? Then one comes along that is there , just there , never expecting anything in return .
    Wisdom has come for me with age , it’s the best part of maturing .

  18. An excellent post just received in time before the huge festivity awaiting some people. It is a gentle reminder to those who may have fell into complacency to wake-up and re-evaluate. It can become completely disheartening when we see in society an overload of conspicuous consuming during the retail holiday season and your post should be a reminder to those of us who may not receive the gift we wanted, that maybe we are the recipient of truly priceless ones. Thanks for the inspiration! Wishing you and your family very Merry Christmas and spiritual New Year to and your family!

  19. I suppose, at this point in my life, I resonate most with the concept of happiness which I believe is closely linked with kindness, listening and patience.
    I love your blue elephant. It radiates positive energy and is a symbol of good luck. My blue elephant is a simple verse which I carry in the watch pocket of my soul. I pull it out from time to time when I need an attitude adjustment. It’s always there to remind me that whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

  20. Environmental protection, kindness, patience, wisdom (I hope!), longevity (to which I aspire–shooting to make to age 100 and be in good health when I get there), stamina (I can tough it out with the best of them), listening.

    Or maybe these are just the traits to which I aspire.


Leave a Reply to coldhandboyack Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.