The other day, in my ongoing efforts to declutter my home, I came across one of my favourite stories. I also found my journal entry about this same story. The journal entry is copied below.
Travel with me (and the elephant) if you will…
Yesterday I finished reading a delightful and refreshing book: The Elephant’s Journey’ by Jose Saramago. It was translated from Portuguese, which is just as well because I don’t speak Portuguese.
The narrator in the story was careful to explain ‘historical’ details of life, politics and travelling in the 1550s, which is just as well because I’m living in 2012.
The author is a keen observer of human nature under the pressures of unfamiliar experiences and long journeys, which is just as well because, though I have made my own observations under similar pressures, I have no such skill as Jose’s to express it with such clarity and irony.
Aside from recommending this book to anyone who’d listen, I was delighted to read that the elephant, called Solomon, and his travelling companions passed through Verona, Trento, Bolzano, Innsbruck and even stopped off temporarily in Salzburg.
Why was I delighted? Because I am about to undertake this same journey over the next couple of weeks. Saramago’s fable is based on a true story of an elephant and his journey several hundred years ago. I love the fact that I’ll be treading in the footsteps of both an actual and a fictional elephant.
Most of my journey will be by train. I’m told, in another book I’m reading, this is considered ‘slow travel’. So though I’m no literal elephant, I’ll be taking my time as I tote my 20 kilos of luggage behind me (in addition to my own, not to be enumerated, personal kilos) on a journey I’ve not taken before. But the elephant has.
So far I’ve been staying with friends in somewhat familiar places. This next stage of the journey is not familiar and therefore a little scary. I’m trying to be brave. Several Bible verses supplied by friends these past few days make mention of the Lord taking hold of my right hand – which contains all sorts of baggage – and that he won’t forsake me.
His hands are so big and hold much more than me and my solitary travelling.
Though it is of some comfort and amazement that I’m travelling where an elephant has travelled before me, it is of much greater comfort to this timorous traveller to have God as my present travelling companion. Him and his big hands.
Which is just as well, because elephants don’t have hands and the feet they do have inevitably end up as umbrella stands.
For those who are interested, I completed the journey safely and happily. I saw places I’d never seen and learnt things I needed to learn.
‘The Elephant’s Journey’ remains on my bookshelf – a survivor of the decluttering and a symbol of my own survival as I journeyed to unfamiliar lands.
Daily Post – Second-Hand Stories