I’ve had many dreams where magnificient events took place at the water’s edge. In one dream of many years ago, I was living in a splendid house with a large French door that opened onto a view of a deep river. As I looked out at the river, I was startled by an amazing sight. I saw elephants swimming in the river with the current.
While I watched, I became aware of something else even more startling. The elephants at the surface were not swimming, I discovered. In the crazy narrative logic of dreams, I was able to see into the depths of the water to discover that the elephants at the surface were actually standing on the shoulders of others that were underwater. And somewhere under the layers of standing elephants a herd of elephants in contact with the river’s floor were walking.
And I wondered: how can this be possible? How do they breathe? How can they survive? But somehow this was something that they do, something we didn’t realize about them, some ancient knowledge they possessed, a way of survival that was powerful and mysterious and strong.
I’ve always wondered what the dream might mean. Sometimes a symbol has communicative power that transcends cultures and eras. Might some scholar of India or Africa be able to interpret my dream of elephants for me?
[Elephants in the Deep River, by Aletha Kuschan]