Wednesday, July 2, 2008

John McCain, Elephants, and Courage

Here's a nifty little coincidence. As mentioned in my last post, I just finished reading Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Lifeby John McCain and Marshall Salter. One of the points that they drive home in this book is that courage means doing something that you know is right even if you are afraid of the physical, psychological, or social ramifications of doing so, even if, especially if, you KNOW that the outcome is likely to be not only unfavorable but possibly even dangerous, if not fatal. I read this book while I was in VA, visiting my mom. A few days later, while I was waiting around in the airport, I picked up Water for Elephants: A Novel.

On the plane ride home, I saw Horton Hears a Who! which is about an elephant (Horton) who is on a mission to save a community of people he can't see (the Whos of Whoville). They live on a speck, and Horton can hear them, but he can't see them; and the leader of his community is fit to be tied when Horton's nonsense about believing in life you can't see starts to influence the youngsters. She calls for his head on a platter, and Horton is facing real, physical danger; but he persists in his promise to help save Whoville because as he says,"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one hundred per cent." As I'm watching this, I think, "Wow, Horton is courageous in the sense that John McCain would recognize and appreciate."

On the second leg of my flight home, I open up Water for Elephants: A Novel, and the epigraph reads thus:

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant...
An elephant's faithful--one hundred per cent!

--THEODOR SEUSS GEISEL, Horton Hatches the Egg, 1940"

I mean, seriously, what are the odds? What does it all mean? I recently read The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination, and the author talks about paying attention to coincidences. In particular, he talks about his personal experiences with travel-related coincidences. So, seriously, what does this mean??? Am I about to face some situation which is going to require elephant-sized courage? That can't be good.

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