The Bridge and the Elephant

The Bridge and the Elephant October 24, 2011

In the dream, I was working hard to finish a bridge in order to cross some river whose current was strong. It seemed important to get where I was going, though I couldn’t put where I was going into words.

Just as I finished the arc of the bridge, an elephant appeared in the water. It was stepping down the middle of the stream. When it was squarely beneath my unfinished bridge, it stopped to douse itself with water. Then it stared at me.

All at once, the sheen of the water on its back made me question why I was building a bridge in the first place. It made me question if what I was crossing really needed to be entered. It made me wonder: If I were to enter the stream rather than cross it, would I have a different sense of where I was going?

In the days since the dream, the image of the elephant under the unfinished bridge has made me consider obstacles differently. Now when I stumble before things I don’t understand, I try to remember the elephant dousing itself in the middle of what I thought I had to cross and ask myself: Is the thing in the way something I need to cross or enter? If it’s a difficulty involving love or fear, where will I be led by crossing it? Where will I be led by entering it? At each turn, I find myself needing to know: What must I face and what must I bridge? And when are facing and bridging deeply the same?

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