Yesterday, I saw some elephants. I say 'saw,' I mean, took a trunk in my hand, walked about 200 metres with them and fed them. They're incredible beasts. As I lead the elephant down the path, I remember thinking: 'This trunk could kill me,' which, it must be said, is not the most reassuring thought ever.
We took them to a small forest clearing, and there they were asked to show us certain 'natural' behaviours, like kneeling (for drinking, and digging up roots), blowing (for... good question. Someone did tell us, and I'm sure it's very useful...), and a violent shaking of the head (for cooling down, or getting rid of flies. Apparently.)
The elephants were rewarded with food, and then we were given a chance of a close up. The elephants responded to every order their trainers gave - to open their mouth, lift up their foot, wave their trunk, etc., and it was all rewarded with food.
But I felt uncomfortable.
It all felt a bit like a performing circus. Seeing animals with such majesty and power, yet as tame as your household dog made me feel dirty inside. Of course, the elephants are well treated and fed, and given as much space as possible. But it all felt a bit tawdry and shallow, witnessing elephants given wood pellets as a rewarding for flapping their ears.
They were meant for more than this.
In the same way, we're meant for more than living life and performing tricks when it seems expedient to do so. We were created with such potential, and yet, we sink into obscurity because we don't get shot down so easy then.
There's a band called [dweeb] who are breaking up. They've been around the (Christian) music scene for about 10 years now, but I've never really got into them. In a conversation about them last night, I was pretty scathing about their music and their impact. But, for 10 years, they've endeavoured to stick their head above the parapet and do something good. How can I, as a mediocre, as yet unknown, wannabe musician/comedian/theologian, shoot down an artist because they tried?
Of course, it helps if that effort is coupled with skill - but when we live a life trying to keep our nose (or trunk) clean and not getting in anyone's way, we fail to live up to our potential.
So maybe, as I've documented before, going home will be the best possible thing. Maybe our music will start to get out there, when we actually come together to write stuff and gig. Maybe I'll do some open mic nights and try out some jokes on people. Maybe I'll write a book, preach sermons, help people understand God's love in practical ways.
But I won't know, unless I try.