It’s All How You Look At It

Written by Hollye Dexter

Recently I watched a fascinating documentary on elephants. There was an alarming escalation of elephants rampaging through Indian villages, trampling people to death. Generally speaking, elephants are peaceful, but something was changing them, and this filmmaker was seeking to unravel the mystery. He was able to trace back the beginnings of most of these rogue elephants, and what he found was striking. All had witnessed their mothers being murdered by a poacher when they were babies, and that seemed to have imprinted violence onto them. (There’s your proof that elephants do indeed have a long memory.)
Sometimes it just came down to the fact that an elephant had endured years and years of torture by it’s trainer/captor, and finally snapped one day. Aside from the heartbreaking subject matter, what really struck me was how these abusive captors kept the elephants from running away – they simply tied a thin string around the elephant’s foot. Of course an elephant could easily break this string, but he doesn’t believe he can. You see, the sad truth is when the elephants are babies, the trainer keeps them chained by the foot. The elephant is beaten into submission and can’t get away. After a while, he stops trying. He becomes so conditioned to his captivity that a simple string tied around his foot makes him believe he is powerless.
I thought long and hard about that. I think the people who end up going on murderous rampages are the ones who could never break those strings. And aren’t we all, in some way, living with a string tied around our foot? I mean, for the majority of my adult life I lived with the limitations imposed on me in my childhood. My childhood no longer exists, my circumstances are completely different, but I was still attached by that string. I believed I was powerless, that I didn’t have a right to speak up, that I wasn’t a deserving person. Thanks to a good therapist, and the support of my husband and friends, I sawed through that string…but it wasn’t easy.
Still, other strings remain. A biggie is fear of failure. Right now I am standing on the precipice of so much possibility … but I’m afraid to jump. I’ve finished my book and am about to start sending it out into the big wide world, and I have some other things in the works, things that are new and therefore scary. I’m having nightmares every night, giant snakes swallowing my ponies of optimism, ants invading my body, and, strangely, Cameron Diaz stealing my jewelry (have no idea what that was about). I don’t know why I should fear failure, I mean, I’ve failed fantastically in the past….many times. I failed to the point of bankruptcy, and I’m still here. So what’s the big deal? I might fail? Who cares.
God, it’s like when I was watching that documentary and I’m screaming at the elephant through the TV screen…just RUN! And then I imagined him looking back at me with a bubble over his head: Look who’s talkin’!

I think it’s time for me to break that string…

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  1. Anonymous

    "I think it’s time for me to break that string…"

    Me too. You first. Ha!

  2. Anonymous

    You can do it Hollye. It is not as strong as you think. Just run and it will break.

  3. Anonymous

    You are stronger than most people I know. What an exciting time for you. Whenever I am at such a crossroads I turn to music. I listen to songs that give me strength and make me feel strong.

    Rock on and jump in. You will learn a lot.
    And I know you will do great.

  4. Maxee

    Hollye, Did you ever hear…."If You Think You Can Or Think You Can't, You Are Right"
    It's so true: "It's all how you look at it".

    You've worked long & hard and have already proven that you have what it takes!!! I'm so proud of you.
    Fear of failure? Facing obstacles that are scary? We can all relate to that.
    But my mom used to say, "what's the worse thing that could happen?" And she was right, she'd put it in perspective for me.
    You've had a dream and now is the time to put that dream out there and get that book published. Take a chance. What's the worse thing that can happen?
    You're "The Little Engine that Could",….So do it!!! Great things are in store for you, I just know it. xoxoxox ~Maxee

  5. Maxee

    Oh and if you haven't already read, "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen, be sure to pick up a copy. You won't be disappointed I'm sure.

  6. Deb and Barbara

    And The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy is magnificent.

    Hollye, from my side of the journey, having put myself out there many times to varying degrees of success and with lots of rejection, I can say 100% that failure isn't getting rejected. Failure is no longer trying if you do.

    So try and try and try. Know now that you won't give up and then you can't fail. If you get any no's, you'll just adjust here and there and do it again. This is the worst that can happen. And it is a fantastic part of the journey because every nuance that you adjust will teach you more about your work and yourself.

    xoxo B

  7. Anonymous

    OMG! BRILLIANT! Just know while you tug on your string…we'll all be supporting you as we tug on our strings…I love you…linda


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