A couple of days ago I found a tiny jade elephant charm mixed into the rocks in my Arizona backyard.
I’ve walked by that spot hundreds of times, but never saw the elephant. Or maybe it wasn’t there until that morning. Maybe. More likely rain, wind, under-surface critters, and my own steps and weight shifted material to move the elephant into view. The charm has likely been in the rocks from when they were brought into the yard for landscaping. How did it get into the load of rock, then? Where did the rocks originate? How many times have people been near the rocks on their route to my backyard?
What I find fascinating about a found object like this charm is it focuses my attention completely on something unexpected for quite a while. For several minutes I examine it, clean it, turn it around with my fingers. I wonder how it got to this particular place and time. I wonder what it will bring to me, and what I will bring to it.
Does the object have significance? Some cultures use jade elephant charms to bring good fortune to the wearer. A quick web search says that a jade elephant is used in Feng Sui to strengthen the influence of that room’s section. A symbol of an animal can bring with it all the power of that live animal. We have (somewhat) changed our treatment of elephants in recent years. We know elephants have strong family ties, lifelong memories, and feel emotions as we do. You need only read the biographies of the elephants at the The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee to feel connected.
I believe the charm has whatever significance I give it. I believe at some point someone wore this charm, and they believed it had significance, too. I believe that person was not from a Western culture, so I am now connected to her or him through this charm. I believe they valued the jade stone it was carved from. I believe this charm has connected me to the original wearer and reminds me again how we are all connected to everything.