Have you ever been to the circus? Not many employ elephants these days, but they did when I was a child. In fact, I can remember one of the highlights of my youth was going to a traveling circus with my family. I remember watching in awe as the performers demonstrated their amazing skill. I also remember watching in confusion as the great elephants were held by a small rope tied around their leg.
When I saw this, I asked my mother if the elephant was sick. She said, “I don’t think so. Why?” I responded that if the elephant was not sick, he was strong enough to break the rope and run away. So, I didn’t understand why they’d use such a small rope to keep him in place. I will never forget her response. “He doesn’t know he can break the rope, so he doesn’t.”
It was later I learned part of the process of “training” an elephant to stay on a rope was by starting with very heavy chains the elephant could not break, especially as a baby. Gradually, the chains got smaller and smaller until they were replaced by a small rope the elephant was convinced he could not break. So, he would not try.
In short, the elephant was conditioned. We are also conditioned. As children we dream of amazing things, but somewhere along the way we realize that it hurts when we fail to achieve our dreams. Do we adjust our dreams? Some do, but the vast majority find it easier (not to mention less painful) to stop dreaming. We allow our conditioning to keep us from dreaming.
I am here to remind you that you can break free of the conditioning and dream again!