At the Chiangmai elephant sanctuary in Thailand last summer I experienced the pinnacle of my elephant journey. To bath in the muddy rivers with my spirit animal friends took me literally to the other side of this world. I was in awe of the dedicated caretakers who saved the elephants from loggers, circuses and poachers, giving them safety and nourishment in an often greedy world. My family and I reveled I’m feeding the elephants their favorite bananas and splashing in the playful ravine of waterfalls.
I was very young when elephants captured my heart and soul, I saw their upward trunk as my emblem of good luck. There’s a least three elephant statues in each room of my house. They carry significance with every key relationship in my life – including my husband who was conceived in a temple in India, honoring the Hindu god Ganesh revered as the protector of all, and a mighty force in the success of all endeavors. This magnificent creature has been a guide for many from the spirit animal world, and takes on several forms in cultures worldwide.
As a global traveler and life adventurer, I often find myself on roads with no maps, so perhaps this is where my love for Ganesh was kindled – in a quest to comprehend serendipity – linear time has little relevance. Serendipity and Ganesh seem to go hand in hand, often visualized with his mighty trunk sweeping away all obstacles, and bringing to light in mysterious ways the sublime orchestra and cacophony of a world in seeming chaos. Perhaps this serendipitous quality we often associate with Ganesh is simply the divine artist, a weaver of tapestry so finite our human minds cannot begin to fathom how one thread upholds the other. Some of us, emboldened by life’s circumstances, dare to find the single thread which binds it all, and in doing so, attempt to unravel the mystery.
We all know someone who has the world’s worst sense of direction, but those people eventually reach their destinations – often with gloriously unexpected views. Just as frequently, they’re dangling from a dangerous cliff or wallowing in muddy ravines. But those ravines give them a depth of perspective, humility and compassion not often afforded those who stay in the safe zone.
I can relate to this quest, often using my pen as a way to show me a path. And like an elephant, I see my reflection in the mirror and recognize my tribe.
Writers and artists often feel bursts of inspiration, and I can relate to these downpours of emotional release. One morning, words poured out of me – through me, faster than I could keep up. I locked myself inside my cave, and for three weeks did nothing but write. And there, my first script “Between Ten Worlds” emerged – an attempt at making sense of my world in a multi-cultural family with all the humor and mishaps this entails. I followed my internal GPS, which of course, like others with this technological malfunction, decided to do everything backwards. I went to the Cannes Film festival – the height of film wheeling and dealing, with no notion of what this entails, other than a passion project. “Hu ah YU…” French interns awaited behind small windows – documents delivered and with sweaty palms, worthiness with websites prevail. Eh voila, Cinderella was at the ball.
Serendipity followed me around Cannes; like Ganesh, my invisible elephant friend, opening and closing his eyes in a comical game of hide and seek. Producers whom I wanted to meet would mysteriously appear on street corners, filmmakers whom I’d met in LA were needing my help in airports, actors attached to my script without financing. The world felt like a temple; a protective shield once lost, was again found, and I was very aware that the golden carrot dangling in front of me was nothing other than a story within a story, and it was much bigger than me.
What life travelers are often unprepared for are the roadblocks on this journey. We’re often unprepared for the invisible signs and warnings about the dangers of this altitude. In this case, I was in six inch heels and carrying a sparkly clutch, and what I really needed was a life size backpack with oxygen, premium hiking boots, and SPF 5000 – there should be a warning sign before that climb. In fact they’re are, but they’re so covered in ice and snow that we don’t see them – or choose not to, because that’s the road for us. I recently read an essay about creative people which states that such people are “wise and naive” simultaneously. In spite of being female, and the “me too” experiences I’d faced growing up – I was naive to the propositions I’d face in my creative endeavors.
For those of us who feel film is a platform for reaching a global audience, or use this as the heightened view for sharing the passion of an artist with a story, we are also often naive in following this crazed goal. At the risk of sounding like Yoda – we think the illustrious view will give us a sense of satisfaction, that other people’s congratulations will fulfill us. But how do we handle the deals with the “devil?” How do we deal with our own desire to understand the shadows of our light? Ganesh must need something to sweep away, or there would be nothing for him to do, right? I was naive to the “Can I lure you into misbehaving” with top Hollywood producers, offering me a week in Hollywood to be “their girl” in exchange for making my film. I was perplexed by the complex plans of a top Indian producer, wondering “If I’d be their lover for life in exchange for producing all of my films.” I was naive that friends in the business would expect “some kind of favor in return” if they fund raised for my projects.
People who desire a sense of achievement with efforts can become depressed by the power play of a world where monetary exchange is the force behind the success. Money is power, but there is something greater than this. It’s a physical tool to use energy as a source of currency in a world where there is imbalance. While there was a sense of self-righteous indignation about these proposals, what life travelers come to realize is that the power play of the forces is a means to go beyond what we see with the visual eye. I think this is what Ganesh represents to the world of the spiritual seeker. He shows that both are real: the seen and unseen, and that serendipity is a means for us to be humbled in our sense of organizing on the human level.
We’re all looking for the missing pieces of the puzzle of our lives, and while journeys have unpredictable outcomes, in retrospect it feels like it was all written. The whole puzzle was there all along – the fulfillment was the transformation, for better and for so-called worse. Like Aretha, I say a little prayer each morning – I light a candle for the force which removes our obstacles, for the light within us which gives us strength to listen to the little voice inside that doesn’t need the currency of approval for what’s written on our page.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.
I loved how your poetic language and searing images brought me to appreciate my own life obstacles–and to appreciate the light within that guides us beyond them.