The Elephants Are Smiling


Taking vacation time is hard for me; I feel guilty and uneasy actually putting down my computer and postponing my meetings. I worry that business could not possibly go on without me. Even when on vacation, I'm often writing, dreading deadlines, designing, photographing, analyzing, balancing books, and more. Part of this need to constantly work and this fear of removing myself from my career endeavors is that I believe in the power of hard work. I believe that persistence and determination are what separate those who succeed from those who fail, but these past few days I have been reminded of the power of pausing from your ordinary hustle to enjoy the beauty that life has to offer.

My boyfriend and I took two weeks off from our day jobs to visit Bali, Singapore, Tokyo, and Kyoto. While in Bali, we visited an elephant sanctuary where 28 elephants rescued from deforestation currently live, along with 3 other elephants born at the sanctuary. When you arrive, you check in at a little counter and then you turn a corner to witness these magnificent creatures casually bathing in a pond, cracking coconuts, and entertaining tourists. We were ushered over to an area with a pile of soft bamboo pieces and a line of hungry elephants. We started to feed them, and the elephant's trainers told us to stand close to the elephants for a picture. Within seconds an elephant had wrapped his trunk around my waist. I squealed, but the trainer quickly told me the elephants just like to give hugs. I'm sure this is a tourist gimmick, but I completely fell for it. As we posed for another picture, three elephants had their trunks around us. It was so strange having elephants touching you, spitting on you, and breathing on you, but also completely magical. For half an hour, I giggled like I haven't in years. When an elephant is tickling you or wrapping you up in his trunk, you aren't thinking about deadlines, designs, or budgets. You live completely in the moment.

I don't think we have enough of these moments in our lives. Especially as young Americans, we are so focused on what we should be doing or how we can get further along in our career or elevate our status, that we forget to take in the moments that make life extraordinary. For me it was hanging out with smiling, playful elephants for a morning. For you, it may be going on a run in the mountains or eating an amazing meal. Whatever it may be, occasionally give yourself permission to take a break. You don't have to take a two week vacation or hang out in a jungle, but learn to stop long enough to laugh like you normally wouldn't, to breathe in fresh air, or to try something new. I assure you, it will be well worth it.

Until next time,