What I learned from an African Elephant

By Dave Munson

Saddleback Leather photo in serengeti


So, I'm sitting here on the patio of our little Tanzanian thatched roof hut high up on the edge of the Serengeti.  I'm watching a herd of 11 elephants wander over to the river at a slow and leisurely pace.  Perhaps someone told the elephants what they told me in Bora Bora.  It seems like they heard the same advice. They said...

"Why run when you can walk?"

My wise father always said, "People are more important than things".  A sage friend told me, "If you have a choice, err on the side of relationship". I've never heard an old person say, "I sure wish I would've worked more."  If you died today, what words would they characterize you by at your funeral? What words would they characterize you by in their minds?

"Life's short and then you die."  Ever heard this one?  "I've never seen a hearse with a trailer hitched to it."  If you died today, would the world keep on spinning?  Would someone be able to take your place?  Sure it would and sure they would.

Saddleback Leather photo of vulture

So, go live life and err on the side of relationships, not things. Be irresponsible a little with the people you love. Leave your work undone now and then.  Relax. I've done that a lot and the world still seems to be turning.

People spell love like this, T-I-M-E.  It's not about being in the same room with them, but actually spending quality time with them... and outside of a movie theater.

You're teaching your kids, young and old, how to be a mom or a dad or a spouse. How to L-O-V-E their spouses and kids.  They're going to do it EXACTLY the way you teach them.  "Tell them anything, show them everything".  They'll do what you say even if your lips never move.

Relax, go be irresponsible and have some old fashioned fun. Go to the beach and just lay there.

Saddleback Leather picture of hippo

If you need to schedule your irresponsibility, then so be it. At least do something regularly with someone. You don't have to travel all over the world, but here are a couple of ideas of things to do. These are ways of spending quality time and relax with someone and take time out for the things that are most important. Feel free to add to my "to do" list below.

  • Buy a Frisbee and go play catch.
  • Go driving down and explore a road you've never been down that's outside of town
  • Buy a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle and put it together
  • Put about ½ cup of dry ice in an empty plastic bottle and then add lukewarm water, securely screw on the cap and run. It'll blow up (don't do it if it's illegal in your state)
  • Camp in the backyard
  • Go video some Masai Warriors singing you a song

Saddleback Leather's Suzette Munson with Masai Warriors

  • Have dinner in the backyard
  • Buy a marriage book like His Needs Her Needs or Love and Respect or Five Love Languages and read it with your spouse
  • Climb a tree
  • Trade houses in or out of town with friends for a weekend
  • Wash the car
  • Skip rocks at the river or lake
  • Take your kid out of school after 1st period and do something
  • If there are puffy clouds, then go get a blanket and lay down in the grass somewhere and look for shapes in the clouds.
  • Volunteer to ladle up soup at a homeless shelter (not just on Thanksgiving or Christmas)
  • Make a collage by cutting up old magazines that you can get from the library and then glue them to paper.
  • Or, you could go on safari in the Serengeti.

Oh, and, by the way, I just picked up the binoculars and I can't seem to spot the elephants anymore.  They must have made it to the river... and they weren't even running. Imagine that.