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Volume 5 - Issue 02 FEBRUARY 2007

Being Yourself
by Kay Challenor

She plunged into the water and diving deep, began to walk along the bottom of the riverbed. Her movements were slow as she moved against the current, similar to a space man walking on the moon.

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"It's miserable being a hippo..."

Life just was not fair!

The water around her was cool and soothing after being in the heat of the day. Calming to her emotions as well, which were running high.

It was so unfair being a hippo. Running out of breath, Lady lifted her head, kicked her feet and returned to the surface. Immediately she could feel the sun scorching on her back so she made her way to the muddy bank and, covering herself with wet orange clay, stood amid the reeds half submerged in water.

She was soon joined by Pee, a very smart looking Oxpecker with yellow and grey marking his feathers.

"Why, Lady, whatever is the matter?" Pee inquired, seeing tears slowly roll down the hippo's cheek.


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"They look so light, so beautiful and so carefree..."

"It's miserable being a hippo," replied Lady with a sigh.


"Well look at me. I'm big and fat, ugly and clumsy, destined to spend my life waddling around in the mud to stop this grey hairless skin of mine from burning in the sun."

"Why, Lady …"

"Don't call me Lady! Some lady; look at me! Now they are ladies, look at them."

Lady paused to watch a group of gazelles darting across the sandy earth. Their golden and cream coats gleamed in the sun and they leaped this way and that, higher and higher into the air.

"They look so light, so beautiful and so carefree," moped Lady, "Just like dancers, so graceful."

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"I have always wanted to be tall and elegant like you..."

A family of giraffes followed the gazelles. They too had beautiful coats that glistened with health. Their long necks gently moved as they took slow deliberate strides on their long legs. They looked completely at peace with the world around them.

"Wish I was a giraffe," whispered Lady.

"You are funny," laughed Pee. "Do you know why the gazelles leap and dart from one spot to another as they run?"

"For fun?"

"Hardly! They are running away from predators; lions, leopards or hyenas. They leap to confuse their pursuers, in an attempt to put them off the chase. It is not so much a dance as a fight for life, even if it is beautiful to watch. You wouldn't really want that would you?" said Pee, "After all what are you afraid of as a hippo?"

"Why, nothing really," replied Lady. She paused and gazed up at the blue sky in deep thought.


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"I just charge to see them off..."

"I guess the only thing is the occasional hungry lion, but I just charge to see them off and then come into the water. Nothing bothers me in the water, not even the crocodiles. Actually I do love being in the water. It is so, well, calming and comforting. She waded deeper into the river until just her eyes and nose were showing above the surface. The water moved around her body, caressing and soothing. Feeling happier, Lady kicked out her legs and began to swim. Pee flew onto her head for a free ride.

"Have you any idea how gracefully you swim?" he said. "Quite the expert."

"Just watch," said Lady as she dived to the bottom of the river. She began to move her legs and head, moving and turning, a picture of skill and expertise. Looking a bit like a small grey submarine in the hand of a master helmsman. She came back to the surface and was rejoined by a chuntering Pee.

"You nearly drowned me diving like that with no warning!"

"Good though, aren't I?"

"Yes, yes, very good. So why don't you start to believe in yourself? We all have our own individual skills. Time you began to enjoy yours rather than comparing yourself with others. Comparing only makes you miserable."

"Hum," said Lady.

The two swam to the opposite side of the river where the giraffes were enjoying their afternoon drink. With their long necks they had to splay open their legs to enable their mouths to reach the surface of the water. It was a very tricky procedure and in this position the giraffes were very vulnerable, open to an attack from a predator.

"Oh Lady, you made me jump!" one startled giraffe remarked. "Thought you were a crocodile for a minute. I could only see your eyes and nose and that is just how they sneak close before they make an attack."

"Sorry," said Lady. "Do you know I have always wanted to be tall and elegant like you, but it isn't very easy for you to drink is it?"

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"Gazing up at the stars..."

"No we have to be very careful. You wouldn't want to be us Lady. You would miss your water too much. We often see you swimming and diving in the cool water and it looks so much fun. You are very lucky you know."

The giraffe's words remained in Lady's head and she thought about them for a long time. She thought about them all that day and all the next day as well and the day after. In fact, she remembered the words for the rest of her life and from that day on she was never sad or critical about who she was or what she looked like. She spent her days rolling in the orange mud to keep cool and having long conversations with Pee. And often, at night, she would lay half submerged in the water, gazing up at the stars and thinking just how lucky she was to be alive.

Swami says, “Learn to make the best of life, this chance offered to you to sublimate your instincts, impulses and vasanas (impressions left on the mind by past actions) and rise higher and higher on the moral and spiritual ladder. Make the best use of opportunities like this and derive Ananda (bliss).”

- SSEHV ( UK) Newsletter, Dec 2006.

Illustrations: Varun Vats, SSSIHL

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Vol 5 Issue 02 - FEBRAURY 2007
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