I Imagined Her Well
The way her blubbered skin stretched over a fluid spine. How her back had been blackened by basement dust and grim assumptions. Evanescent scales caught the light of my laptop, reflecting the full spectrum of the rainbow before they settled back to a chartreuse. Her bulk was overwhelming, blue whale overwhelming, Hoover Dam overwhelming. Like a disposable camera, my eyes had to chunk her into segments.
Sensing my slim presence, she set her body in motion, disentangling part by part: clawed paws, spiky neck, thorny tail, whip whiskers, soppy nose. The first time we look upon our dragon we see only its lethal parts. Similar to looking down the muzzle of a gun and failing to notice the luminous shine of the cherry wood stock.
Fear masks the beauty of a thing.
My dragon unraveled before me and though I had felt small before I was impotent now. I was a wee bit of a woman whose middle name was Lynn instead of Courage. I had come to this battle with a laptop, a notebook, and a chai latte for weapons. We humans are impossibly gifted at confusing optimism for wisdom.
I must tell you of her eyes, like orchid light shifting behind smoky soot. Not soulless, but soul daring. Eyes that tighten the chest and hurt the heart.
Looming over my prize, my life dream, she challenged me to take it. Go ahead and try! Circling, she thumped me upside my head with the very tip of her tail. My eyes popped twin waterfalls as my frame shook. I almost ran back up the stairs into the August afternoon sun.
Lesson 1– Once you’ve looked upon your dragon, never turn your back on it again.
I Challenged Her Well
I returned to her almost every day for years until time lost its potency. Sitting on the last step in the dim light of the staircase I fought my dragon. Not in the way of a knight but in the manner of a mouse, stealing one word at a time from beneath my dragon’s vast weight.
She growled, (as every proper dragon should) threatening me with fear-full nonsense. You are incapable, ungifted and naïve!
I was naïve and have thanked the gods for it! If I had known how long it takes a mouse to steal a block of cheese I would have given up on my dream for a clean house, a secure job and golf lessons. But I wanted my dream more than I wanted my security! I wanted the risk of getting burned more than I wanted the peace of mediocrity! My first laptop died, then my second and still I continued typing until my knuckles throbbed and my battery fried.
Lesson 2: Determination is the armor your dragon cannot breach.
I Friended Her Well
My dragon nibbled her loose lips as her prize diminished. As I grew more confident she grew restless and alert. Venturing closer, I would swipe entire sentences from beneath her as she huffed her fiery puffs. I no longer heard her guttural warnings over the tapping of my fingers. The violet light in her eyes dimmed against the glow of my screen. I gave up my hard, wooden seat to perch between two, warm claws.
Eventually, the day came when I found her slack tail coiled around the last of my dream. I stood before her, one hand holding my laptop as the other clutched my chai. “I created you when I created my dream. You thought you were the embodiment of my fear, my lack, my uncertainty, my belief that if I fail to realize my dream I am pointless. You’ve lost your power over me because I know now that I am SO much more than every aspiration I will ever have.” She raised her broad snout, blowing a sloppy goo over me. Her tail rose, uncoiling like an overused garden hose to reveal the very meat of my treasure. It was not a finished book, but a true treasure: self-actualization. My dragon was a catalyst. Sometimes our gifts must be horded by another before we see it as a treasure.
I gave my clever dragon a goofy grin, “If it wasn’t for you I’d be one fantastic and utterly miserable golfer by now. I’d be clutching my bitter dreams without the courage to live them out.” I tapped the edge of my laptop against her giving hide, “Thank you, Dragon! When I look upon your slivered teeth I will remember that I am more than the things I aspire to accomplish. When I sit between your shiny claws I will remember who created them and who sustains them.” She nuzzled my laptop, scraping her thorny whiskers over its metal casing in a jarring screech. “You know, once you get past the scorching breath, the freaky eyes and the sour scent, it’s kind of nice to have a dragon lurking in your basement.”
Lesson 3– When you befriend your dragon you gain your true treasure.