The Little Elephant That Could

When I was little, like about 6 or seven, I had this book about a baby elephant. I can’t remember the name; I can only remember the beautiful illustrations and the rough outline: a little elephant was about to take part in a talent show, and the book was all about his (or her?) search for the right talent for themselves. Throughout the story the little elephant had a slogan, “I’m just a beginner, but I’ll be a winner, and I’ll be the star of the show,” and that was definitely the one thing that stood out the most clearly in my mind.
I hadn’t thought about the book for years; in fact, I had all but forgotten all about it until this evening, in my art class, when I found myself unconsciously reciting something in my head, and suddenly time crashed apart and I was six years old again, staring down at a little elephant riding on a tricycle juggling with three balls. It’s strange what being stressed will do to you.
As someone with general anxiety issues, I tend to be stressed a lot. Sometimes it’s just ridiculous and I can scold myself and move on, but sometimes it gets out of hand. Today, for example, I walked back and forth in front of my art class for ten minutes, trying to gather up the courage to go in. It sounds immensely stupid even when I say it to myself, but at that point all I could see were objections after objections: I had missed three classes, my teacher might yell at me, I’d forgotten to get the water container and his fees, and then of course there was the usual crushing pressure of being around people and in the midst of tinny-voiced kids who stare a lot (urgh. Doesn’t anyone teach the little brats manners these days?)
And then I did the unthinkable. I took a deep breath, told myself to pull it together, convinced myself it wouldn’t be that bad, and walked in.
And you know what happened?
Absolutely nothing.
Like, my teacher just asked me where I’d been, I asked him if he was mad, he said no, gave me a new painting to do and that was literally it. I brightened up a little when I saw the painting (it’s so beautiful and flowery and yellow and pink and I love all of those things) and he noticed it; apparently I’m not as good at hiding my anxiety as I thought, which is a realisation I have every couple of days and then inevitably forget about, and he said literally absolutely nothing about all those things I’d been scared of. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew he wouldn’t have, if only because my luck with getting perceptive, sensitive art teachers who understand me and how I function has always been really good… but you’d have been hard put to convince me of that before I walked in today.
It was at this point, while I was settling down contentedly with a new painting to work on (yummy! I love that moment when you first put the brush to paper and can feel the water unfurling), that I realised I’d begun humming an old tune in my head. There it was, that quiet little voice in my mind, going, “I’m just a beginner, but I’ll be a winner, and I’ll be the star of the show.”
Jokes about the whole over-identification-with-a-baby-elephant thing aside (I wonder what tipped me off that this character could be me. I WONDER.) , it was a strangely epiphanic moment (wait, that’s not a word).  I don’t think the elephant actually ended up winning anything; everyone just came over and congratulated them and they felt like a star for the rest of the evening. But that wasn’t really the point; the point was the search the elephant made for their talent, and the confidence they had in themselves.
I have bad days. There are days when I can’t leave the house, can’t even get out of bed, because putting shoes on, talking to people, walking on the street can seem like a monumental effort I can’t possibly get through. Only last week I ended up leaving college before classes started, after making it all the way to class, because I just couldn’t handle it: I had to get out before my heart burst out of my chest, and for no obvious reason. On these days even talking to a shopkeeper can seem like a massive achievement or an impossible task I can’t even contemplate doing. Today could have one of those days… but it wasn’t. I took a simple step: I decided to walk through the gate, and it worked. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m ridiculously proud of myself. And you know what? It might have been a small victory, but it still tastes an awful lot like success.
Right! So now that that’s out of the way, here’s some exciting news about our upcoming new project, Melodies. Last week… or, like the week before that- who even knows, the semester has started and I’m just floating through space and time at this point- I put up the story about me losing my musical virginity, and now this has snowballed into a massive new project for all of us to enjoy! Seven new writers have joined in to tell us about their favourite bands: their likes, dislikes, loves, fan-person-crushes and more. Albums will be discussed at length, songs will be dissected, people will be cried over, and, most importantly, the music of these immortal souls, ranging from the Beatles, Nirvana and Radiohead to more recent bands such as Years and Years and Vampire Weekend, will be celebrated in a glorious milan of melody and words. What more could we want?!
Here’s the official poster-thingy. I made it myself. I’m very proud.
There will be more going up soon, with all the individual authors and their bands!
Uploads of these beautiful pieces start next week. Looking forward to seeing you here on C’est la vie!



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