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Identify and Deal With Your Main "Buffalo"

One of my favorite folktales is about an African father who had two sons and two daughters. He wanted to take one of his children into the jungle because he had his spear and an extra one. He knew that each of his children would love to go into the jungle with him.

Thus, he informed his children that in the jungle, there were four kinds of animals: lions, snakes, elephants, and buffaloes. He asked them, ?Which animal would you attack first, and why??

The children thought for a while, and the first boy said, "I would attack the elephant first. Elephants are the biggest of all the four animals, and I think that it would be easier to attack the others.?

The first daughter said, "I would attack the snake first because I hate snakes. They spit saliva on you, and the venom could make you blind if it gets in your eyes.?

The second son said, "The lion is the king of the jungle. If you can fight it first, then it would be easy to fight the rest.?

The second daughter, who was also the youngest, asked her father if she could be given more time to think about her answer. The father agreed, giving her another day.

On the following day, the father and children got together again to listen to the final response so that the father could make his choice.

The youngest daughter said, "Dad, my sister and my brothers, this indeed is a difficult question for all of us. Going to the jungle is also a problem, and one needs to know how to survive there.?

The other children were losing their patience at this point, and they told her to stop telling them things they already knew. ?Well, I would fight the buffalo first,? she said.

In unison the other three children asked, "Why??

She explained, "Buffaloes are mean, clever, and brave. They can see you, smell your presence, and then attack you. Lions are also brave, but they won?t attack you if they have had their breakfast. Elephants are big and may take time to turn and run after you. They also have to smell your presence. Snakes mostly attack if you come near them, but they won?t start looking for you.?

She continued, ?If I kill the buffalo, the lion won't bother me because there will be meat for it. The elephant will smell the blood and run from the presence of danger. Finally, when the buffalo is falling down, it may fall on the snake.?

At this point, the father picked up the extra spear and gave it to the youngest daughter and said, "We will leave tomorrow morning. Go and get ready.?

The moral of the story: Life is like a jungle. It presents us with different kinds of opportunities to enjoy life positively and accomplish our mission in this world. There are, however, many obstacles which may stop us from positively accomplishing our missions. Equating these obstacles to jungle animals, one has to identify his or her buffalo and face it effectively. ?Social buffaloes? can come in many forms, including a lack of education, substance abuse, poor and unhealthy relationships, abuse of family members, problems with civility, lack of life goals, poor self-evaluation, hanging out with the wrong crowd and more importantly, a lack of good relationships with one?s creator and divine providence. When the main social buffalo is identified and eliminated, all the problems disappear or become easy to handle.

The aspect of taking time off, as portrayed by the youngest daughter, is a very important lesson. The current trends, which include a dependence on technology, information super-highways, and drive-through life styles, have changed the traditional way of taking time off to reflect on the past, evaluate the present, and project toward the future. We must consider spiritual, physical and emotional aspects before we can effectively move toward attainable goals.

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