My monsters say that there are far too many things about elephants to be able to say anything even slightly meaningful in twenty minutes.
That may be true, and yet, here I am with twenty minutes and with words bubbling up, words about elephants, so let’s find out.
Let’s liberate the words and liberate the elephants, in twenty minutes of tiny liberations.
Twenty minutes on elephants!
I just realized that Twenty Minutes On Elephants sounds like I mean riding an elephant for twenty minutes, which is not what I mean at all.
That is a very striking image though, and it just brought up a long-forgotten and very startling memory. What I actually meant here originally was twenty minutes on the topic of elephants.
Or possibly not on the topic, or possibly on the topic of Not On The Topic…
The elephant in the room.
No one talks about it because it seems somehow awkward to mention the obvious.
Sometimes the Not-Talking-About-It becomes deafeningly loud, and then you avoid the room, and sometimes you don’t remember why you don’t visit that room anymore.
Sometimes the Not-Talking-About-It silences the elephant’s essential elephant-ness to such an extent that it goes and hides behind the curtains, and you genuinely forget that it’s there. A trick of the mind, a trick of culture.
Sometimes the issue of the elephant becomes a broken step, a missing stair. Oh, hey, don’t trip over the giant semi-invisible elephant.
The elephant in the room in my dream.
There were elephants in my room.
Not my real room, a dream room: a small elongated rectangle of a space.
Not real elephants, representations of elephants.
An absolutely humongous stuffed animal toy elephant, grey and plush, on its back. A pewter Ganesh, the size of my hand. Two colorful wooden decorated elephants that looked like India, one large and one small; I have seen them before but I can’t remember where.
What do I know about the elephants in the room in my dream.
I didn’t want them there.
They had just ended up in my space.
They had been left or forgotten, and then I had mistakenly thought it was unkind to remove them, when in fact it is unkind to my space to keep things in it that don’t belong there.
An understandable lapse in sovereignty; we want so badly to be kind, and we forget this essential truth about what Kindness really is and how it works.
I realized this in my dream.
I realized that I had neglected not just the elephants, but my space and myself and my needs and desires, due to this misguided idea that it is not nice to ask things to leave.
So I began the task of liberating elephants from this mysterious dream-room, and discovered that the elephants had…what is the word for this, the thing fruit does when it gets overripe in the fruit bowl because no one has eaten it…
I don’t know how to describe this with elephants, because you can’t say that elephants have become spoiled.
That makes it sound as if they’ve been given too many sweets at a party and have become whiny and demanding, little tantrum-ey elephants who probably need a hug and some quiet time to chill.
And you can’t say elephants have gone off, like you’d say to describe food, because that sounds as if the elephants have exited, possibly in a stampede.
Elephants aren’t rotten, that sounds wrong too. And yet.
There was a big hole in the belly of the stuffed-animal toy elephant, so I couldn’t give it away as a gift like I’d wanted to.
I asked Richard to take it away for me, and he told me afterwards that he had found another elephant inside of it.
Me: Like a baby?!
Richard: No! Another toy elephant, but a different kind. A wooden statue elephant. But, here is sad news, there was also a dead mouse inside of your elephant. It must have burrowed in there to make a nest, but then it died.
And then Richard and I cried a little, for the mouse, and for the elephant. In the dream.
And I cried for my room, which I had neglected so deeply, out of this false sense of obligation to a false understanding of kindness, that I hadn’t even noticed that the elephant I didn’t want to hold onto to begin with was holding this mouse grave.
We moved all the elephants out.
We moved all the elephants out, and the room said thank you.
I said THANK YOU, ELEPHANTS. And: I’M SO SORRY, ELEPHANTS.
And a circle glowed in the window where Ganesh had been.
What else about elephants?
Long memory…that’s the story-myth at least.
Is that long memory like grudge-holding? Is that what needs to be liberated? Are the elephants a form of stew-stirring…
Or is that long memory like soul memory?
Like the vision I received about my mother — she was dancing with Miriam and the women, celebrating. They were all dancing in the desert, in a line-circle: singing, beating their tambourines and laughing. She looked to be maybe thirty years old with long flowing black hair, but I recognized her. It was her.
She was so happy because that was where she wanted to be, back in soul space, in her pure-Ruth form, celebrating life, moving energy.
Memory like that.
Like remembering yourself.
And that was the bell, for twenty minutes.
Do we want another bell, twenty more minutes?
Is the elephant a bell?
What else about elephants?
Something about luck, not sure, a talisman.
Something about…oh, of course, this is the month of Stand In My Strength More.
Elephants do that.
I’m not sure. Let’s ask Wikipedia for clues.
Ah, such beautiful clues.
They have pillar-like legs. That is a clue.
They are “highly recognisable”, that makes me laugh, maybe because we ignore them when they are in rooms.
Oh! They are led by matriarchs. See, I knew somehow my vision of Miriam and the women from my lineage, dancing after the parting of the Red Sea, I knew that wasn’t a departure from elephants even though it seemed to be when I wrote it. I felt that it was connected.
Elephants have a fission-fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialise, I like the feeling I get from reading this sentence, and the way fission-fusion tastes in my mouth.
Males and females live separately or in separate groups, that is intriguing.
A big spark about this:
They communicate by touch, sight, smell and sound; elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances.
And apparently, says wikipedia, the trunk can be used for delicate tasks, such as wiping an eye , and can crack a peanut shell without breaking the seed.
That is a lovely, gentle image. I am wiping my own eye right now.
Thank you, Wikipedia. Thank you, elephants.
Elephants have thick skin.
Literally. An inch thick.
This is something I have been wanting metaphorically. Not the thickness, but the boundaries.
Boundaries are a big part of standing in my strength more, as is liberating things that need liberating, be they words or elephants or dreams or understandings or things that don’t need to be in my space anymore.
Like misunderstandings about the truth of Kindness.
And one more story.
I forgot to tell you the elephant-story-that-I-mysteriously-forgot! How do I tell this.
When I was nineteen and living in Tel Aviv, I was intensely lonely. I didn’t know yet about my internal worlds and all the fascinating aspects of being me. I wanted people.
So whenever someone wanted to be my friend, I was like, OKAY YES BE MY FRIEND, without any discernment about whether I liked them or not, because I just craved connection so deeply.
This is how a girl I met in line at university befriended me. I thought she wanted to date me, but she wanted endless small talk. We had nothing in common and I found her unbelievably boring to converse with, but she kept inviting me places and I kept going, because it seemed better than staring out the window.
I think she was studying nursing. I literally can’t remember anything about her other than how little I enjoyed her company but couldn’t turn it down.
Eventually that fizzled because it had to, and later that year I ended up seeing a guy who was basically a moderately upgraded version of the same thing.
He was kind and attractive and quiet, and he rode a scooter, which meant that I rode with him, which now seems incredibly unlike me, given the upredictable and terrifying Tel Aviv traffic, but I didn’t care.
For all that, there was just nothing there. Zero spark. His niceness was his primary characteristic, and I was always bored, but never quite bored enough to want to be alone with my awful thoughts.
He broke up with me, awkwardly, and I didn’t really care, it was just another not-fun thing in a year of not-fun things, and I had already slid so deep inside myself that there wasn’t much of me to reach.
Back to the elephants.
A couple years later, when I had crawled out from the dark places, I was at a concert. It was a Yarona Caspi concert. Yarona. She had short spiky hair then, in a leather jacket, looking gorgeous and mean and full of trouble.
And I ran into them. Together. The boring girl and the boring guy. Alon, his name was Alon. Which is so hilarious and perfect, because it means oak tree, another clue about Standing In Strength that I missed at the time. Her name I forget.
I remember being so astonished that two such incredibly dull people would be at a Yarona Caspi show of all places that it didn’t occur to me to be surprised that they knew each other, or that they were clearly a couple.
They told me how they met. It was not long after he and I split. They each were traveling in India, and they had gone to ride elephants, and they were the only people who showed up to the elephant-riding thing, and they shared an elephant.
They thought it was the best story in the world.
A thing about me at that time in my life…
I had closed myself off to many, maybe even most aspects of myself, so the only part of me that got much airtime was the Bitterness, with a side of dark sarcasm.
It’s not a bad part of me at all. I love and appreciate bitter sarcastic me, she is biting, smart and very funny. I just didn’t know about the other parts.
I said something like “oh, what a small world”.
But I meant: “How fitting that the two most boring people on earth would find each other, in the place all Israelis go on holiday, doing the most cliched touristy thing in the world, riding an elephant, and they think this constitutes an Interesting Story, something they can bore their boring grandchildren with over and over again, to be preserved for future generations of walking cliches.”
Except I was wrong.
It is the best story in the world, because I’m telling it now.
It is a perfect story, about elephants and Standing In Strength, about unlikely coincidences and liberation from the dark places, about fearless intentional choosing what we want in our lives, and about letting go of everthing that isn’t that.
It is about the passage from things that are all bitter to being someone who can see sweetness everywhere and still hasn’t lost her edges.
I know now that people aren’t boring or not-boring, they just don’t fit what I need. I know now that not every person or elephant that comes into my space needs to stay.
Do you think they spent twenty minutes on that elephant together? Because that would be even funnier.
There is the parable of the monk touching the elephant and trying to describe reality from one part of something vast, and there is sadness and playfulness in the Babar stories, I remember an illustration of colorful cakes. So much elephant to explore.
But this is all I need right now. I ended up setting more bells and more bells, it’s been a couple hours, which is apparently the right amount of time.
Three minutes until the next and maybe-last bell.
I am wishing peacefulness for all elephants, for anyone who has loved an elephant, for all forms of [elephant], for all versions of me, dream me, soul me.
Forgiveness-peacefulness for the times I have ignored and forgotten elephants.
Joyful-peacefulness for the times I have delighted in their majestic aliveness.
Peacefulness for everyone who reads. Peacefulness for Tiny Liberations, in all forms.
And there’s the bell.
There’s the bell, just as I landed on one more clue, which is also a peacefulness-wish.
A well of sustenance and healing was given on Miriam’s behalf to travel with the Israelites through the desert.
A traveling well! Traveling well with a traveling well.
Yes, please. Sustenance and healing in travel form, a source that moves with us as we move. May it be so.
Play with me.
You are invited to share anything sparked for you here, about wells, bells, elephants, the sweet, delicious practice of giving twenty minutes to whatever needs to be liberated, or whatever comes up.
I would also happily read any clues/images/stories you might have about elephants.
In case you are wondering, I was not using elephants as an intentional proxy, but of course they are standing in (and standing in their strength as they are stand-ins) for many themes in my life.
That’s why investigating things that don’t necessarily seem to be directly related to our Big Issues is such a good healing — it’s such a safe way to play.
So if this appeals, you might enjoy asking what you know about elephants, or something that is like elephants, or something that is not like elephants.
Everyone is welcome, everyone belongs. We make space for each other.
We meet ourselves and each other with warmth, and we joyfully abstain from giving people advice. We play with Safety First, so of course feel free to make up a name and/or email address, and to make safety for yourself in whatever forms you need.
Love and peacefulness-wishes to everyone who visits here, and everyone who reads.