’The Mahout’s Stick’

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11th September, 2023

In a small town, there was a temple elephant who was very much the local hero, often revered and always loved.

Every day, the elephant would be taken out for a stroll through the lanes of the busy bazaar.

As it walked along, the elephant would do as it pleased. It would reach out with its trunk for a bunch of bananas hanging in front of a store, and before the hapless shopkeeper could react, the bananas would be inside the elephant’s mouth.

It would sway its trunk into another store, and bring down bunches of carefully arranged flowers.

Or it would grab a coconut from the woman selling coconuts on the road and crunch it in its mouth like a walnut.

The mahout would try and stop the elephant from doing all this, but to no avail. The mahout even tried beating the elephant with his stick, but it wouldn’t listen.

The bananas and the coconuts were just too tempting to resist.

And then one day, the clever mahout had an idea. As the elephant was leaving the temple gates for its evening walk, the mahout held his stick out for the elephant to hold with its trunk.

The elephant obediently took the mahout’s stick and curled its trunk around it.

Now, as it walked through the busy bazaar street, the elephant longingly eyed the bananas but since it held the stick with its trunk, it left the fruits alone.

To grab the bananas, it would have to drop the stick—and that would mean offending the mahout.

So the elephant held on to the stick that the mahout had given it and walked through the street without disturbing the merchandise in the shops.

The shopkeepers were delighted, their admiration for the temple elephant grew, and they often handed over gifts for the elephant to the mahout.

If you think about it, we are all a bit like the elephant.

As we go through our lives, we get distracted by the temptations around us.

And even though our mahouts—our parents, our teachers and our bosses—tell us to stay focused and not get distracted, we continue to do so.

We spend time watching television shows, surfing the Net aimlessly, sleeping the extra hour and chatting non-stop.

What we really need is that stick to hold. And that stick is usually a Goal—a purpose—that excites us and keeps us on track.

Once you have identified a goal in life, you suddenly find yourself focused on doing everything it takes to achieve it.

Like an elephant’s trunk, our minds too wander. We need that stick to keep it focused.

Have you ever been told, ‘Don’t do that’ when you were doing something you shouldn’t be doing?

Remember how you still went ahead and did it?

So, the best way to stop a person from doing something she shouldn’t be doing is to give her something else to do.

Don’t want to watch too much TV? Get yourself a good book to read.

Don’t want to eat another pack of those chips? Eat a fruit.

Identify a goal, stay focussed on it & stay blessed forever.