Seeing the elephant

elephant

I’ve got my black powder musket primed and my saddle bags packed. Wish us luck!

When I first heard the phrase, “seeing the elephant,” I understood it to mean a person gone to war and back, a survivor, and a seasoned one at that.

When I used the story of “the blind men and the elephant” in a recent presentation, it occurred to me that “seeing the elephant” could have a new meaning.

I conceived it to mean a person who’s suddenly seen the bigger picture, whose eyes have further opened. Thus, a similar concept, but not just related to war.

According to one source, “seeing the elephant” started in the late 1800’s in the US. You could not see the elephant just anywhere – you had to see an elephant at a circus. You had to make a special trip.

Thus, “seeing the elephant” became a metaphor for a life changing experience associated with having made a special effort. It was understood to imply overwhelming emotion, excitement, and anticipation. You could start out “to see the elephant” or come back “having seen the elephant.” Some went to see the elephant but didn’t.

Why is this on my mind? Because I’m preparing for a special presentation this month. And my goal is for a roomful of us “to see the elephant,” in this case, a metaphor for having an exploratory discussion of thorny issues for the purpose of gaining a new perspective and power. Adding in “the blind men and the elephant,” the purpose is for us to begin to see how seemingly disparate pieces are in fact unified when looked at from another point of view.

I’ve got my black powder musket primed and my saddle bags packed. Wish us luck!

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One Response to “Seeing the elephant”

  1. Kaimi Says:

    What an excellent topic for presentation, discussion, and thought.


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