Some years ago, I traveled to Nepal with seven women and spent some time trekking in the Himalayas. We also visited a jungle park in the southern part of the country where we rode on elephants, another kind of adventure.
Toward the end of the trip, I began to buy gifts for family, friends and colleagues. Seeing a small wooden elephant, I thought of my secretary who collected miniature elephants. Then I bought it for myself, because of the jungle ride.
That little wooden elephant still stands on my bookcase—about two inches high and crudely carved but remarkably accurate and appealing. Whenever I notice him, however, I do not feel pleasure but regret. “I should have given him to Margaret,” I think. “I didn’t need this elephant and it would have delighted her so much.”
I can even picture my little elephant joining the large herd of glass and wooden creatures on her desk. He would have been happier there. I would have been happier, too.
It is a lesson about selfishness and generosity that I learned the hard way. And I wonder if there’s any other way to learn?
They say that elephants can remember for a long time. I hope I remember this.