Eating Elephant and Facing the Impossible

I would like to present two dreams. Both dreams employ a kind of foretelling quality. These dreams stop the mind from its usual ability to make sense of things and grounds one in the immediacy of another reality. Because in order to get a sense of the dreams you must inhabit a greater presence. The point is not always to understand some literal explanation of a dream but to embody the reality that is offered in the dream, to value it enough to try it on. The first dream came shortly after I moved back to Taos New Mexico in 2007. The dream arrived in the night of Christmas Eve, an auspicious time for such a startling dream.



December 24, 2007 Facing the impossible

I dream I am with an older woman and man who are a couple and a young child. We are out in nature having a good time together. Then we come back to the home of this family. The young girl and I are playing in her room. She lays down on top of me naked face to face. I can feel all my sexual energy arise thru my body. It is incredibly delicate, sensual and sweet. And very subtle. She and I  kiss and stay in that position. Then I prepare to leave and the mother and the father bring me home in their car.

At home I am in my house. This house was new from the one I previously lived in . And with me in the house lives a young boy – an adolescent. He is using the dryer and that annoys me and I think it is because I have a lot of laundry to do as well, but in reality I carry a burden. In the dream I know that I am going to have to deal with an enormous task—one I have done before, and I am facing this task with much dread. There is a sense that because I did it once before, I know all the aspects of it and the fact of these aspects is weighing heavily on me.

My horse, which is in the house, downstairs, is going to die and I have to skin the horse and remove the head by myself and carry it upstairs. The older couple has told me it will be all okay but I am feeling overwhelmed by the task and feel strongly that I need help to do it. The young man in the house –they have told me to get his help and I say, “He is useless.” I am left alone to my task. I wake up.

This dream filled me with a sense of foreboding because there is no getting around the fact of the enormous task. A task that filled me with a kind of horror that such a thing would be my responsibility.  So all sorts of bells went off upon waking--outrage, disbelief and fear.  That a reality like this was on my plate.  What did it mean and why had it shown up now? There is no explanation in the dream to make the task understandable and that adds to its sense of magnitude.

Interestingly the dream starts out with an encounter, a transmission so to speak, with Innocence, Eros and Guidance. We often assign innocence to childhood and forget about it as we grow older.  But I have come to see innocence as a quality of the soul--the original and indelible condition of being a human being. The qualities of the soul are interwoven, one cannot take away one without ripping in half another. Eros is the generative life force in a human being’s existence. John O'Donohue has written beautifully and profoundly in his book, "Anam Cara", about the sacred nature of Eros. He says, "that the body is the Angel of the soul, that the body is our only true home on earth."  He goes on to say,  "that the senses are the thresholds of the soul—to be sensual or sensuous is to be in the presence of your own soul."  He quotes Wordsworth who wrote in his respect for the senses, "Pleasure is the tribute we owe to our dignity as human beings."

These are the gifts silently acknowledged by my dream character as the unusual and touching experiences they were. These gifts from the child became conscious through my experience of her and thus became part of the tool kit with which I was to face the task I was going home to do. And the fact is that I had somehow done it all before. And in that way my dream character is free of illusion. But she is focused on the difficulty she knows is ahead of her. In the greater Reality, the home of the unconscious, there is no time. Everything we have done and will do in our lives already exists there. It is the occupying of time that makes things arduous. So in a way when we pierce time and draw from the realm of complete Possibility we gather ourselves anew.  This dream was in a way a heralding and a summoning of strength for a task that was about to begin—an undertaking both sobering and daunting but ultimately liberating.

The hidden character is the horse. He is dying. It seems that he must. When I think of a horse I think of power. So for the sake of the dream I can say that the vehicle of my power that I have known up until now is dying…and in the ritual of its dying I have to cut off its head, the egoic center, and skin it, making it completely vulnerable to life and carry it up from downstairs. There is a sense of the “descent” necessary to do this task and a bringing it up into the light of day to complete it.

The character of the young boy, the adolescent, in whom I place not a shred of appreciation, is in fact the unknown gem the older couple advises me to obtain help from. When you consider an adolescent and what they are capable of it is surprising that our culture does not find more ways to include their contributions to our society. They have no ambition outside of being alive; they are honest, completely self-involved and available to the new. They are strong, and somewhat fearless, and are willing in most regards to try most anything. In working with this dream I saw that I needed to locate these characteristics within myself, to rally in myself Innocence, Eros and adolescent fearlessness and strength. To find my inner resourcefulness and hutzpah to undertake this next chapter in my life. The dream alerted me to be ready for the impossible.

In reality this chapter of my life has been an 8-year passage into my unconscious.  Once again I quote John O'Donohue:  "The unconscious is a powerful and continuous presence.  Every life lives out of and struggles with this inner night, which casts its challenging and fecund shadow over everything we do and think and feel...This work of freedom is slow ad unpredictable; yet it is precisely at this threshold that each individual is the custodian and subject of their own transfiguration."

It was and has been indeed a formidable but very worthwhile undertaking. It has changed me; it has changed my life from the inside out.

This next dream seems to occupy the complete other end of the spectrum.

July 31, 2010 Eating Elephant

In my dream I am in a beautiful city park somewhere. Apparently, at this time, it is known by everyone that the world has run out of food and water and we are being asked to eat elephant. I feel no surprise in the dream at this and in fact I am laughing and joking with someone and saying, "I cannot possibly eat another plate of elephant”. There were all these tubs of elephant meat lying around the park. I didn’t feel hungry. The groundskeeper was a very matter-of-fact guy –he just did his work and didn’t seem affected by anything outside himself. I enjoyed his way of being and I trusted him. I am traveling via an electric pushcart that is attached to the back of me. It can go in all directions including up and down stairs. End of dream.

Here in this dream we are presented with what should have been the worst of all possible scenarios... something has happened to make it possible we no longer eat food and drink water as we have in our known histories. It has the feel of the future in the dream. A potential is making itself known. We are being nourished by elephant. Once again we have an animal coming that’s uniquely symbolic. When I think about the elephant I am first struck by its size, its power and its intelligence. The elephant is the most powerful animal in the world, it communicates over long distances, it is aware of its family and tribe and uses its memory to lead its own and other animal species along pathways to hidden water supplies. In Hindu astrology he is Ganesh, a Divine being capable of removing any obstacle, a Being of great wisdom.

In this dream the elephant has become the sole source of nourishment for the world. As I step into these qualities the elephant has brought up in me I have to ask myself the question– how would it be to live my life this way, and for this to be the sole way in which I draw nourishment and what would it look like for the world to do this, what things would change?

The park groundskeeper is my model of how to work with such an extreme change. He does not make a big deal out of anything. He goes about his work, he is pleasant and uncomplaining and not affected by outside circumstances. In the dream I travel easily in all directions aided by an electric cart attached to my back, my hands are free.  It is a dream of great mystery, it leaves a scent in the air of jewels to mine.

Like the first dream, this dream holds these mysterious elements – the tools I need to embody, to nourish myself in these times of great change. Power, wisdom, strength, remembering, compassion for all the species of Earth, making clear the path, flexibility, and the ability to move creatively in any direction.

This dream encouraged me to read a book called "Elephantoms" by distinguished biologist and naturalist, Lyall Watson.  His autobiographical book followed his life long passion for elephants, his first original unexplainable encounter with one, their own fate in his native land of South Africa,  and what he came to learn from them.  There is an amazing scene at the end of this book where he witnesses one of the last known elephants of his region in a cordoned off reserve park in South Africa communicating with a whale.

“Do everything from love, especially the things you are afraid of.”