Enlightened Conflict

slaying dragons

September 12th, 2010


“Fairytales don’t tell children that dragons exist, they know they exist. Fairytales tell them that dragons can be slayed.”
– Criminal Minds

Slaying dragons.

Ah. Sounds like a kid’s thing.

Well. Not so much.

It may not be bad for us adults to have the imagination to believe in dragons.

Or the belief that dragons can be slayed.

Look.

I don’t believe life is a fairytale (nor do I believe living a life like it is one is smart).

And I don’t believe you can solely be a dreamer and be successful in the world.

Yet.

I do believe having one foot squarely set in practicality and the other foot set squarely in dreaming is a solid foundation for a happy and healthy life.

And we can learn a lot from children (who are frankly trying to learn as many things as they possibly can to figure out what the hell a ‘solid foundation’ is).

Isn’t it interesting how children dream such big dreams?

And the possibilities of some seemingly impossible things (like dragons and even slaying the sonuvabitches). If we dared look at a child’s life and took a second to think about it … we could learn a lot about doing the impossible (or maybe better said … what is possible).

Yes. It is bigger than just dragons and slaying them.

Every child dreams of slaying dragons, hitting the game winning shot, being a fireman rescuing someone, maybe being the first woman president or beating whatever villain is the villain of the day.

It’s as if dreams are supposed to be part of our every day lives.  Forever. Not just in childhood.

Yet … as we get older (or some people would say ‘become more mature’) the dreams and dreamers seem to tone down into something tamer.

(yeah. I avoided the word practical here)

Somewhere along the way many of us decided that conquering evil wasn’t within our reach and so we decided to simply make some type of impact in our professional lives.

Or maybe ‘evil’ is simply the chore of day to day life and conquering that … becomes the dragon you slay.

Unfortunately.

Dragons weren’t meant to be that practical.

So.

I guess the questions are:

When do we stop believing in dragons and dragon slaying?

When do we stop believing that dragons may not be around today but may have been around sometime in the past so some hero could actually slay them?

When did our dragons become just trying to figure out how to get everything done in a day rather than the big stuff?

I would guess in a really obtuse way I am talking about how life can grind you down to a point where instead of looking at the horizon and wonder about what it could be when you get there you end up looking at each day as a new finish line.

The danger becomes once dragon slaying has been eliminated … what is left?

Making a difference with our career becomes simply being dependable and showing up at the job each day?

The second mortgage eliminates the ability to dream beyond the capabilities of your stretched budget? I guess the danger is you keep trading your dreams one by one for other, more realistic and less noble, goals.

And when the list of dreams has been emptied?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … I would argue your passion for life has been emptied. For with that list empty all that is left is “doing.”

Ok. Ok.

Sure dreaming dreams is dangerous business. It is costly in that it takes time and energy.

But, anything worth having is costly.

You have to be careful that if you give up on all the things that cost too much, you end up settling for worthless things. If you are not very very careful step by step the dreamer became a pragmatist and loses hope for the dreams. And then those lost dreams can quickly become disillusionment and cynicism (or maybe worse you simply forget them).

The trouble is always we (myself included) get so caught up in life that we somehow seemingly constantly settle for the mundane (with the occasional not-mundane thrown in to fool ourselves that we aren’t simply going through the motions).

Oh.

And dreaming (this slaying dragon thing) really is like using a muscle. If you don’t use it you lose the confidence and the belief to do that kind of thinking. And it’s no longer just being okay with the mundane or focusing on some set of to-do’s to check off but rather you just don’t know how to do anything else but that.

Whew.

Just typing that is a tough thing … thinking it may actually be true? Whew. Yikes.

Look.

One would hope there is some higher purpose attainable for us beyond simply the mundane “getting the to do list done.”

Yeah.

Dreaming is truly a dance between a dream and reality.

And while it may seem like a slow dance it is actually a tango and reality has the lead.

Sure.

‘Slaying dragons’ is hard work … you hear descriptions about how much people have had to give up in the beginning and of hard work and sacrifice. Yet, I’ve never heard anyone speak of having fulfilled their dreams and having regretted paying the price it exacted.

The only time you hear true regret comes from those who gave up their dreams.

Oh. Also.

In today’s world it is easy to get confused on this ‘dream’ thing.

What do I mean?

‘Dream house.’ There you go. How can a house be a dream?

Dreams aren’t necessarily a tangible material thing. Or I guess in my eyes they shouldn’t always be.

It shouldn’t be getting a bigger house and nicer car. And certainly not at the expense of living a full life or being gone so often you miss out on being the ‘hero’ (dragon slayer) in the eyes of their children.

I could also add the suggestion that this is the same for the guy who transfers his dreams onto his favorite sports star watching religiously seeking fulfillment he occasionally finds in their triumphs.

Yup. This dream and slaying dragon thing is tricky.

Ok.

I would like to suggest it’s never too late to pick up dreams again.

To recapture the fact you can not only find dragons but slay dragons.

But (and this is a big ‘but’).

The problem is, the older you get, the more verbal opponents (naysayers) become.

First. In the practical world lots of advisers suggest ‘always do the practical’ or ‘play it safe’ because now is not the time for dreaming or taking chances (but, if not now, when?).

Second. Those who fear you following your dreams. Many fear to see you fulfill your dreams later in life because it means that their’s lie somewhere dormant or lost … or worse … still attainable if they make the effort. The thought of you reaching your dream breeds fear because it means that they must confront their old fears of failure and success in achieving their dreams all over again.

Yeah. I know. That sounds kind of depressing.

But I just say all that to make a point that we adults make it awful hard to do this whole ‘slaying dragon’ thing.

Bottom line?

The only person capable of stopping you is the same one that greets you each time you step in front of the mirror.

Slaying dragons isn’t just for kids.

So. Go out, find a dragon and slay it.

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Enlightened Conflict