Second-Hand Stories

I was told a story about 5 blind men in a room with an elephant. It was the first time they were introduced to the majestic creature. Each of them began to touch and feel it and was asked to describe what the elephant was to them.

The first chap said, “Ah, the elephant is like a wall.”

The second said, “It can’t be, it is like the trunk of a small tree.”

The third retorted, “It is but a large leaf, round and soft.”

The fourth proclaimed, “You are all wrong. The elephant is a flexible pipe.”

Finally, the fifth remarked, “No. The elephant is a rope. When you pull it, the heavens open up with rain!”

I wonder how our imagination went about with each of the blind men, in particular which part of the elephant they were touching. Here’s a sample of the majestic creature:

Elephant Park in Chiangmai

     Elephant Sanctuary in Chiangmai

It may help us understand better how the five perspectives were derived such as a wall, the small trunk of a tree, a large round leaf, a flexible pipe and a rope. We can see that the elephant was not just either of their specific description but each gave a close description of a part of an elephant. It also depends on where each of them was standing or rather touching, to come to that perspective. This story helped me to reflect more on how people have varying views on a particular issue or concern. There will be times when there are no perfect answers but somehow, if we pool the answers or perspectives from different people, we get a collective view that may give the `big’ picture of what an elephant really look like. We can learn a lot from each other.


Elephant ride in Chiangmai

In parting, I can share that the rope does not necessarily result in rain. More often, it would be a thunder storm 🙂

Second-Hand Stories –  DP – What’s the best story someone else has recently told you (in person, preferably)? Share it with us, and feel free to embellish — that’s how good stories become great, after all.

NB: I was told that the 5 blind men story had a source – Bertrand & Hughes, 2005.


5 thoughts on “Second-Hand Stories

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Second-Hand Stories | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

  2. Pingback: The Blind Men and the Elephant | Swallow in the Wind

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