A few days back, I watched a program on wild elephants. That episode showed the activities of a herd of elephants with a month-old calf. The elephants kept grazing and moving the entire day. The highlight of the episode was about how the baby elephant faced a real big challenge for the first time in his life.
The herd had to cross a river to continue their journey. The elephants were elated to see the river and they rushed into the water. They bathed and splashed water everywhere. It was an easy swim for all the family members except for the calf. The water was shallow (nearly 8-10 feet); but deep enough to drown a month-old calf that was just over 4 feet tall!
When the baby elephant saw the river for the first time, he looked surprised to find so much water in one place! He followed the others excitedly, only to find himself under water. Not being able to breathe and swim really scared him. He ran back to the shore. Other elephants tried to pull him to water but failed because the calf was too shaken to enter the water again.
All this while, his mother was watching her baby from the shore. She now came closer to the calf and caressed him as if to say, “It’s alright. You will do fine.” She then gently nudged him towards the river in spite of his hesitation. She put her trunk around the calf and pulled him into the water. She demonstrated how to hold the trunk up, just above the water to breathe. She kicked her legs and showed him how to float on the water.
Now, the calf tried to imitate his mother. He didn’t succeed at first. He kept drowning. But, his mother was hopeful and determined to teach him to swim. She helped him float by holding him up. Slowly, the calf got the hang of it and started kicking his legs around. Though not perfect, he could now stay afloat without his mother’s support. Within minutes, the baby picked up the tricks of swimming. The mother released her grip once she realized he could manage on his own. However, she stayed right next to him, guarding him, till they crossed the river together.
The baby elephant could discover the joy of swimming only because his mother encouraged and empowered him. The courage and skills that she had passed on to him was going to stay with him forever, helping him face any challenge bravely.