Why Diets Don't Work

July 18, 2011
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Not too long ago, in the jungles of India, lived a herd of elephants. These elephants were known throughout the animal kingdom as the wisest and most intelligent creatures, except for one. He wasn’t quite the youngest elephant, but he certainly was not the oldest. His wrinkles were not deep and cracked, and his skin was still tough. It hadn’t become soft and leathery yet, something that would come with time. He wasn’t quite the smallest elephant, but he certainly was not the biggest. He was too big to fit between the interstices of the groves of trees, but when he walked, branches did not sway, the ground did not quiver, and birds did not call out in warning that a great creature was advancing. No, he was all around a very average elephant, not particularly special or distinct, and that bothered him greatly.
The herd was making their annual trip to the far depths of the jungle, where a very special plant grew. The elephants had been around for many, many years, so they had learned that eating this root helped make them healthier and grow stronger. Usually, the herd traveled together, looking out for the very youngest and oldest, as they needed the most protection. But one year, the herd left, sans one. Missing from the group was the elephant, not quite big, not quite small, but very selfish and foolish indeed. He planned to travel alone, so that he could follow a shortcut and reach the plants first. If he did this, he’d be able to eat up all the plants, and maybe then he would finally be important. To be the strongest animal in the jungle, that was his goal.
It was a greedy idea, and an impulsive one. Having only decided the night before of his plans, the elephant rushed off in the direction he thought would lead him to the plants quickest. But he was mistaken. Soon, the jungle became very dark. The usual cacophony of birds calling to one another, of monkeys screeching in the distance, and of insects buzzing ceased. The silence disturbed him, who in the quiet, was left only to his own thoughts. After many hours, the elephant approached a cave. Peering in, he saw that it was occupied by a ragged old man. The man’s beard was long, his legs were thin and folded, and he sat by a fire, chanting in a slow, barely audible voice. The elephant, both curious and scared, interrupted the man’s meditation with a few stomps of his feet. “Excuse me sir, I am lost and searching for the deep part of the jungle where a special plant grows. I need it to be healthy and strong. Can you tell me where to travel?” asked the elephant. Without opening his eyes, the man replied
“Oh Elephant, I have not seen a single visitor in a very long time. It was quite a surprise to hear another’s voice. Oh Elephant, I will bless you. I have meditated long and hard, and have acquired many gifts from the gods. I shall give one to you Elephant, as I cannot make much use of it here in my silent home. It is the gift of speech.”
“But sir, I can already talk. If you could just show me to the plants, I’ll be on my way”
“Oh Elephant, there is more to speech than just talking, there must be truth and meaning. Otherwise words are useless. From now on Elephant, every word you utter will be true. Use this power wisely.”
“I just want to get to the plants. But thank you sir. I must be off now.” And so the elephant left the man without realizing how great a power he had received. It was becoming night now, and the elephant was cold, tired and hungry.
“I should hurry up.” thought the elephant out loud. Suddenly, every step he took was quicker than the last, his pace was five times that of his original. Confused and unsure of what to do, he thought “It shouldn’t be so quiet here” out loud. In a moment’s notice, the jungle came stirring to life. All the animals that had been hidden before came out from their shelter. Insects were buzzing from plant to plant, the leaves of the trees made a delicate sound as the wind blew threw them, little animals scurried from place to place, making small thumps and pitter patters. And the birds and the monkeys made their appearance. The birds sang their songs, and the monkeys resumed their talking. The elephant felt so much better, so much more at home, that he stopped to rest for a moment. He looked around at his surroundings. He listened to the monkeys as their chatted away. “We saw the elephant herd pass by a few hours ago, they must have reached the plants by now” said one monkey. This alarmed the elephant, he listened closer. “Mhmm, they’re probably eating the plants by now!” said another. This made the elephant even more upset. He had failed, he was cold, tired, hungry and alone. And he wasn’t any stronger. “You guys! I’m so hungry! I haven’t eaten for hours. I could eat a elephant!” said one monkey, a jokester.
“Me too.” said the elephant quietly to himself, feeling sad and defeated. But as soon as he uttered those words, he vanished. There was no sign of the elephant in the jungle. He should have watched his words more closely, or perhaps even more importantly, eaten a proper breakfast.





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