My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
Very, very little is worth watching on television – despite the seemingly limitless number of cable and satellite channels. It’s most important function is to train people to be good consumers, to whip up our desires – which like the appetites of Hungry Ghosts can never be fulfilled.
I often suggest to people that one of the best actions they can take to regain control of their minds, and become calmer and more conscious and aware of life, is to switch OFF the TV, or at least move it to the least convenient room in the home.
Yet years ago I saw a short documentary on PBS (the non-for-profit broadcaster in North America) that moved me to tears and which I have never forgotten. Finally, I thought at the time, something that is worthy of the magic of the medium. It was the story of Shirley, an elephant brought in chains from Africa, who is reunited with Jenny – the first elephant she had seen in more than 20 years! Jenny too had been captured in Africa, brought to North America as a youngster, and had worked in the same circus with Shirley in those months after her arrival that must have been traumatic.
I was reminded of this when recently I met a family from Australia who were going to an elephant retraining camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where animals traumatized by living and working amid the noise, congestion, pollution and isolation of the capital Bangkok are reacquainted with the pleasures of the elephant life – which is highly social and almost ritualistic in its slow, deliberate pace. (Words that may sound too anthropomorphic.)
Retelling the story of Shirley and Jenny made me curious to see if anyone had posted the short but excellent piece of television on YouTube. Yes – so here it is! Please take a 11 minutes to watch it.
See if you too are not moved to tears. (And if your heart is made of stone perhaps you too need a retraining camp, similar to the elephant camp in Chiang Mai, where human beings can recover from the traumas of contemporary urban survival.)