“Watch out for the elephants” she yelled from her car as she slowed down and passed me. It was dark and I was walking home to my lodge in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Up until then, I was worried about getting mugged (after my bad experience in South Africa). But now, elephants entered the picture! Instead of hoping not to meet any humans on my way, I started hoping to meet many, because, you know, power in numbers.
Victoria Falls town is in the middle of a Nature reserve. People and wild animals coexist (often to the detriment of animals and the occasional human loss). As long as everyone respects others’ boundaries, things run smoothly. It’s perfectly normal to be walking along the road and encounter baboons, warthogs, mongoose, impalas, vervet monkeys, zebras and other wildlife. At night, hippos and elephants come out to feed in the coolness of the night.
When I asked the lodge receptionist if it’s safe to walk alone, she said yes, it’s very safe but I should avoid walking at night by myself because someone got killed by an elephant a week earlier. I thought then “how can someone not see an elephant? it’s not like it can sneak up on you”. But walking home in the dark, reminded of the elephant incident by the stranger in the passing car, I started imagining them behind every tree. That’s the nature of fear, isn’t it? I kept singing my “Safe” mantra: “I am safe, I am free, I have peace of mind, I am abundance!”. When the mind is left to its own devices, it takes fear and runs away with it creating ugly realities. This puts the body in a fight or flight state and makes life miserable for everyone and everything around. That’s the power of the mind! Why not harness this amazing power in a positive way? I try to busy my mind with positive thoughts and images. Mantras are a great way to do that. A trick that religions, mass media and marketing experts exploit all the time (aka prayers, news and slogans respectively). That’s why I minimize my exposure to them and harness my own mind’s power instead of putting it in the service of others who have their own agendas. The mind is like the mighty Victoria Falls! The water can be used to drown and destroy, or it can be used to irrigate, hydrate, cool and generate electricity. Use yours wisely, because in the end, it’s your life and health that are going to be directly impacted.
Luckily I didn’t encounter any elephants or anything dangerous that night or any other night. Further investigation of the man killed by an elephant story, it turned out that alcohol was involved. The mind is, indeed, a terrible thing to waste!
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