Here be Dragons!
– Early European map makers’ warning
It never does to leave a live Dragon out of the equation if you live near him.
– The Hobbit, J.R.R.Tolkien
I always wanted to ride a dragon myself, so I decided to do this for a year in my imagination.
– Cornelia Funke
I love dragons. Easy for me to say, having never physically met one, but I love the stories surrounding them. Metaphorically, dragons offer warning and wonder. In this Year of the Dragon, the warning signs are everywhere. To be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed by it all: warnings of the Keystone pipeline, warnings of drought, lack of snow and tornadoes in January, warnings of Planned Parenthood being shut down by a short-sighted right-wing agenda, infact, warnings of short-sightedness, in general. I feel utter disbelief and pending despair about our society’s inability to be uncomfortable for longer than 30 seconds to simply think through our options and to be somewhat planful about our collective future.
But I don’t want to get stuck in despair and I’d like my disbelief to grow into something more inspired, which is the wonder piece. I mean, a giant, winged, fire-breathing, riddle-solving creature? Aren’t you a little curious?
What if the dragon didn’t simply have to be slayed, but could indeed be tamed, transformed into an ally? Then, like CorneliaFunke, we could ride a dragon!
The warnings surrounding us in this New Year are plentiful, and like any good dragon, they’re inviting us to sound the alarm and engage our wonder. I wonder if we can create new jobs without injuring the earth. I wonder if we can forge new relationships with our enemies and come to some new understandings about the things we mutally care about. I wonder if we can begin – even in small and slow ways – to tolerate the uncomfortable, and blaze some paths to places we couldn’t possibly yet know. Here be Dragons! I want to meet them…who’s coming with?