I was quite pleased with my post yesterday, where I waxed poetic about slaying my dragon. Then my friend Jim pointed out that dragons have a different meaning in Eastern mythologies. They represent raw power.
I was annoyed with him for disturbing my moment of satisfaction with having slain my dragon. Jim often annoys me because he forces me (okay no one forces anyone to do anything) to dig deeper with his well-maybe-not style of questioning.
I want to dismiss these questions by assigning them to the cynicism bin – where they are sent to be disposed of with no regard for what they might mean to me. I think cynicism is the flip side of a coin that has cynicism on one side and sentimentality on the other. Cynicism annoys me because it, in my opinion, dismisses things by assigning them to bins where they are sent to be disposed of with no regard for what they might mean to the cynic.
I hate when I impale myself on my own prejudices.
So, today I did a bit more googling about dragons and found this interesting link to a site called Dragon Tango. It’s about a sound sculpture that depicts Eastern and Western dragons meeting. Here’s from the Website:
During a trip to Asia in 1994 Amanta and David were in Hong Kong gazing out over the mountains of Kowloon. Kowloon means “nine dragons”. Their thoughts came to rest upon the contradictory and mysterious nature of dragons worldwide. Amanta and David wondered: what does the dragon mean in today’s world? What would happen if an eastern dragon met a western dragon? The dragon quest began.
Check out the link. It’s very interesting.
Then I remembered the movie “Dragonheart.” The story tells the tale of the last dragon joining with a disillusioned dragon-slaying knight to stop an evil king who was granted the potential to be immortal. I love this movie. For one thing, Sean Connery is the voice of the dragon and, of course, a dragon would sound like Sean Connery. That is embedded deep in our DNA, probably from the time we lived in caves.
And, I loved it because of how sympathetic the dragon was.
So, I still trust what I wrote yesterday. But maybe there is more.
I think what I was trying to get to is change and how we deal with it. I’ve heard people laugh that horses are so stupid they run into a burning barn. But they do that because that has been their home—what is familiar to them.
And, oh my, if we humans don’t go running into the burning barn time after time. We seek the familiar, even when the familiar is not good for us (think bad relationship number four), because it is comfortable. We know what to expect. We know that story. We suck it up and ignore whatever pain that story might be causing us because it no longer fits—like a pair of shoes we have outgrown.
I think we rarely move easily into change. I think we are usually catapulted into it by life events and for me, it usually means facing the dragon’s breath and letting its fire burn away what is no longer useful. I don’t go willingly into change.
I think that the point of facing the dragon is to show a willingness to be transformed by change. And that slaying the dragon with compassion (if that is the mythic image one is using at the moment) means understanding that the dragon is sacrificing itself so change can happen, much as we die because—well, there just isn’t enough room on the planet for us to be immortal.
I just became the dramaturge for the play “Metamorphoses” at Los Positas. It is a wonderful play. It includes this line of dialogue:
“Transform me entirely, let me step out of my own heart.”
So I must thank my friend Jim for annoying me—making me feel discomfort. I suspect he will annoy me again.
I have known Jim for close to fifty years. His mother was my mother’s best friend. I know she misses my mother. The downside of living a long time is you live long enough to miss your loved ones.
“And, oh my, if we humans don’t go running into the burning barn time after time. We seek the familiar, even when the familiar is not good for us (think bad relationship number four), because it is comfortable. We know what to expect. We know that story. We suck it up and ignore whatever pain that story might be causing us because it no longer fits—like a pair of shoes we have outgrown.”
My, how I wish I wrote that! SOOOO true.
Best compliment a writer can get. And, as I’ve been told at the Iowa Writing Festival. writers are encouraged to steal from each other.