Today we experienced a major breakthrough with Jon’s training…I passed the training target over to Piza.
Oh man, was it hard to stand back and let Piza make mistakes and see Jon struggle with the resulting frustration, but it was time. Jon kept coming towards me, soliciting my interaction, but I had to return him to Piza. It was time for the game to be something the two of them share.
Jon finally accepted the change and fully engaged with Piza. I clearly saw that they will invent their own version of the training game, which will serve them well.
The game is as much about a philosophy as it is about technique. I understand that this type of training will not replace the customary training in Asia, at least not any time soon. But it is a therapy that can help strengthen the trust and bond between mahout and elephant.
I see now that the training game has the power to heal the deep emotional wounds caused by traditional training, which serves to break the elephant’s spirit. Piza’s love and respect for Jon has grown tremendously over the past few days and the trust and respect returned by Jon is obvious in the way he relates to Piza. Their budding relationship is a gift to behold. Jon’s broken heart is healing. Even thought young Piza might not be aware of the depth of what is happening, he is filled with joy and a fatherly pride in Jon.