This morning I found out that it’s world elephant day. It’s one of those facts which has stuck in my mind ever since for the simple fact that elephants are my favourite animals.
My parents tell the story of when I was small and we went to zoo together for the first time. There was one animal I wanted to see, the elephants, but for little me they were terrifying. I had only ever seen pictures of elephants in books, where the scale of the images didn’t communicate to me how big the creatures are in reality. When you’re a small child and see a picture of an elephant on one page and a duck on the next, the two appear the same size. So when I saw the sheer size of the creatures, I burst into tears.
I don’t remember the day, but it makes me want to go back and reassure my small self that it’s ok, elephants are still awesome.
Over the last couple of years I’ve struggled with my mental health. It’s the second serious bout of depression that I’ve had in the last 8 years. This time, I’ve found elephants oddly comforting.
My Mum and my Aunt have often sent me small videos of elephants in that time and never once have they failed to bring a smile to my face. Baby elephants are funny. They do daft things and they have fun little personalities. Who can’t help but laugh at the elephant that kicks it’s trainer in the bum while standing next to him? They are like naughty teenagers.
There’s another side to elephants which I’ve really come to appreciate in the last couple of years. The caring, nurturing side of the adults. I’m sure other animals exhibit these characteristics to their young, but something about the way the elephants express it is very comforting. Perhaps it’s their size, and the strength and power they display, that makes it more surprising when you see a mum curl her trunk around her baby and pick it up from the ground. There’s a gentleness from these animals that you wouldn’t expect. At a time when the world seems more broken than it ever has, there’s something oddly comforting in seeing a large creature display such gentle and caring behaviours towards others of it’s kind.
I don’t really know where this post is going, or really what the point of it is, other than that I wanted to write something today. So here it is. Make of it what you will.