Invisible Chains: What Binds Us That Eyes Can’t See

invisible chains

On 13th January 2013, as I bought my salad for lunch and was about to walk to a nearby park to eat it, I saw a man seated in front of a mosque. His face was not unfamiliar to me – sharp features, bright eyes, and frequently smiling. He is an average to small sized man, but he always looks clean, clean shaven, short hair, nicely pressed clothes, in jeans and barefooted.

He is fairly groomed and kempt, and he sits beside a pillar right in front of a mosque near to where I work. Once in a while a person who walks by would glance at him, ponder a moment before taking out their wallets to pass him a dollar or two, and he would thank the person profusely and with a full smiling face, then proceed to repeat over and over for about ten times that “so good, someone gave him money” to all other passer-by’s, alerting them to his “good luck.”

Whenever I walk by him, I would quickly glance at him, and walk by, sometimes I think about it but sometimes not. However, today was one of those days where a full inner conversation and ideas filled my mind as I walked to the park.

He reminded me of the story of elephants, who stay close to their stakes on the ground because they have been taught from young, that they are “chained” to a stake on the ground, so they don’t wander very much further from the stake. How they train these huge yet gentle lumbering behemoths is that when they’re young, they physically chain one of their hind legs to a very firm stake on the ground, and what this does is that each time the elephant wanders to the length of the chain, at a certain length, the chain will stop them in their tracks and they can’t proceed any further.

Over time, the repetition of repeated stopping motion of the length of the chain becomes ingrained in their heads, and as they grow older, they don’t even need to be restrained by physical chains anymore – all the owners got to do is to place a stake nearby, and these elephants will not go further than the length of the chains they had when they were younger.

That’s it.
Chains
And that’s the who story that unfolded in my mind as I walked away from the smiling man, who sits by that exact pillar, day after day after day. Of course, I’m pretty sure that there’s someone who places him there, after all, as he is well kempt and groomed until the day ends. Either that or he’s a very smart individual who wishes to live off the charity of others, but I’d rather assume that someone leaves him there daily.

And then I wondered to myself – what do I do everyday that is similar to the elephants with the invisible chains? Are there any invisible scripts in my life that limits me? Or are there any false beliefs that restrict me?

What about you? Have you identified any invisible chains in your life? You may feel it but you’re not that sure how to overcome it – share your story.

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