From one of his business travels my husband brought home a wooden carving of a mother and baby elephant. My toddler was delighted with the new addition to the household furniture and thought this the ideal toy. “No, that’s daddies” my husband told her, something she did not accept. “Daddy and me” she said. “Okay, it’s daddy’s and yours – but it remains up there!” my husband said – having put it out of her reach.
Since then she has been quite fond in pointing towards it and telling us “Daddy and mine”.
It literally is a woodcarving of an elephant. That made me think of the expression “the white elephant in the room”.
The “white elephant” refers to any object that is simply taking up space and is not serving any purpose. I have several of these items in my house. Mostly I am thinking of all the home exercise equipment we possess. What a waste of my living space these things have become. Yet we always think that they would still be useful – if we could just make the time. Mind you, they are never in use for more than a day or two. How easy it is to come up with an excuse, not to exercise.
I have joined the gym. Paying my monthly fee is a motivating factor. Additionally my medical aid offers me a rebate if I attend a certain number of times a month. I have nothing there to distract me from exercising. The gym instructors will motivate me to get my full workout. It’s strange how a little change of scenery and motivation can make all the difference!
On a different level, we sometimes feel like “the white elephant”. A waste of the space we occupy. I’ve been there. I go there, perhaps more often than I would admit. It takes an active effort on my behalf not to go there. Like going to the gym – I actively need things to motivate me not to go into “the white elephant” attitude about myself.
Depression is the kind of monster that will suck you into it. However if you are reading this, I’d like to tell you – here right now as your eyes and brain make sense of the very words you are reading – and the process of understanding is being formulated in your mind – right now you are not a waste of space. The interactions you have with people on a daily basis – they matter. You have the ability to choose to be a positive force within this universe – despite the suck fest of monsters that try to tell you differently. Even the white elephant serves a purpose. The unused exercise equipment in my house reminds me to go to the gym and not let my fees go to waste.
Those of us with depression and inferiority issues – we often have compassion so great, it becomes too much to handle. We have insight into the suffering of the human spirit – which others lack. Compassion and insight are the very things; this burnt and suffering world needs to heal.
That wooden elephant – which simply sits as a decoration beyond my daughters reach, inspires her imagination. Each other day she will bring her little drawing book and ask me to draw her a baby elephant and then the mother. When I tire of drawing her elephants, she will go to my husband and ask him to draw elephants. When they choose an animal involved creative activity at the daycare – she will choose the elephant.
The elephant drives her to try to draw her own elephants. This has her learning a new skill, which will be very beneficial to her in later life. Who knows to what other wonderful and positive things this will lead?
So do not think you are just a “white elephant” taking up space. You are a living, breathing spirit, a human being. If a carving of an elephant can do so much in a little child – then how much more can you who has the ability to think and connect with others do?
Find a way to shake off the darkness and start shining. The world needs you, here, right now.