‘Dance with the Elephant’: a key to a beautiful life

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Written by Duane Kuss and Don Calhoun, “Dance With The Elephant, Life’s Cosmic Equation” is a book on self-discovery that explores the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.

Kuss lived in Little Falls from 1991 – 1999, and Calhoun grew up in Little Falls and is the co-owner of Little Falls Granite Works and the president of Murphy Granite Carving Inc. in Richmond. The two met through their businesses and have become fast friends.

Dance-With-The-Elephant“Don is a great story teller,” said Kuss. “He would end each story with, ‘Someday, I should write a book.”

It took two years, but the two got together weekly and wrote “Dance With The Elephant.”

The elephant the two talk about may be death, trauma, divorce, addiction or any other subject that’s deemed taboo. It is the elephant in the room.

“The ‘dance’ is how we engage others in conversation about those subjects,” said Calhoun.

The premise of the book is to help readers become better people, better listeners and more compassionate with others. The authors want to help people dig deep into themselves, embrace who they are and love others for the people they are.

“People are called to be better, to connect, to understand,” said Kuss.

“Dance With The Elephant” is not for everyone, the authors said in the book. It asks readers to “… connect with the origins of the universe. Break loose from the cultural norms which have tied you down in the past and discover your personal creative power.”

As people begin learning about themselves, learning to be better people, they will dig deeper into the “elephants” of their lives. It is all part of the growing process.

Don Calhoun
Don Calhoun

Part of the book talks about the “Me, We and What Will Be” phases of life. It talks about improving an individual’s life, the lives around that person and the results that occur.

Calhoun said it’s important to create a circle of trust. An intimate group of people that will share their most intimate secrets, fears and more. Share their elephants without judgement.

The four pillars of understanding supporting this idea are respect, trust, the desire for growth and confidentiality.

To dance, one must first respect the need for every person to create their unique mental balance and way of looking at life. People need to recognize value in others.

One must trust that their journey when learning to dance will have purpose and meaning. Those learning to dance must trust those closest to them.

To learn to dance with the elephant, people need to understand the purpose of continuous personal growth. It is also important to be surrounded by people who respect, trust and nurture that growth.

The last pillar is confidentiality. There must be assurances that everyone in the circle of trust respect what is being disclosed. That one’s secrets, hurts and shames stay within that circle.

Duane Kuss
Duane Kuss

“We are all connected, it’s just not recognized by most,” said Kuss. “Everything has a purpose and everything is in unity with something else. As we move forward, there is greater complexity. A person is as much or as little a part of it as they want to be.”

Learning to confront issues in one’s life produces grace and forgiveness, said Kuss.

“The key to a beautiful life is to know the dance. Know the lows, embrace them and grow,” said Kuss. “Every friendship has to dance.”

Locally, the book is available at the Good Book Store in Little Falls. It can also be found on www.amazon.com.