by J.M. Phillippe
I am notoriously bad at remembering the source of stories, so I can’t remember where I heard this story first. I have been using it, and telling this particular version of it, for as long as I can remember. This is the version I tell:
“Apprentice,” he said, “I want you to carve me an elephant.”
“But Master,” said the Apprentice, “I don’t know how to carve an elephant.”
“It’s simple,” the Master replied. “Simply start by carving away everything that is NOT an elephant.”
The moral, I tell people, just in case they have missed it, is that sometimes the best way to figure out what we are is to start by carving away everything we are not.