My zen and I rode an elephant.
In Thailand last year.
Thailand is a place that is blessed with an abundance of good zen
And many breathtaking temples.
The people are very friendly also.
I recommend you and your zen go there sometime.
Anyway, about this elephant.
Her name was Malai.
A name which means garland of flowers.
Before she would be rode she must be fed.
A few bunches of bananas.
By the fistful.
To get to know her.
Have you ever stuck your hand in an elephant’s mouth?
It’s an experience with plenty of zen!
Then your elephant must be inspected.
It’s not like a motorcar.
That you just climb into and be off.
You have to check your animal’s health
Before taking it for a spin.
With elephants I learned you inspect their toenails.
That’s were they perspire, apparently.
Then you go around back.
And you break apart and have a look at its dung.
My elephant was healthy.
According to its toenails and its shit.
And its handler.
Who checked these things with me,
Me being a dumb tourist,
To make sure I got it right.
Because you don’t fuck around with something as big as an elephant.
That’s the zen of it!
The handler tapped her behind the knee with a little stick.
And barked a command.
Malai bent down.
I climbed up her trunk and sat behind her massive head
With my feet tucked behind her enormous ears.
From this position I was to steer her with my knees
And the utterance of the correct command
For how would an Asian elephant
Rescued from slavery in the teak forests of Cambodia
I’m surprised she knew Thai.
Malai would not go where I wanted her to go,
But suited herself.
She paid no attention to me at all,
But wandered slowly down the mountain path with surprising agility
For a creature so big,
Eating the vegetation she encountered along the way.
I gave up any attempt at commanding her and sat back, as it were,
And enjoyed the ride.It's a unique experience to sit atop an elephant
As she descends a mountain path
In beautiful Thailand.
Malai enjoyed her bath afterwards.
I stood with her in the river and scrubbed her back with a stiff broom.
While from her trunk
She playfully sprayed me with river water,
Accidentally on purpose.
She was a sly one, that Malai,
And appeared to enjoy a joke.
I wonder who sits atop her head today?
And if she’s ignoring their commands too?
Elephants and zen share many traits.
I can think of many but this is the one I want you to remember.
Are you ready?
Here it is.
Elephants and zen can do any damn thing they please.
You are just along for the ride.
So stop worrying!
Everything’s going to be okay.
Your zen knows what it’s doing.
Listen to the zen within you.
And try to do what’s right.
With zen as your guide
You’ll get to where you need to go.
And of course,
Don’t forget to enjoy it.