What do you think of when you hear the word dragon?
That mythical reptile with so much potential.
The one breathing fire in The Hobbit, maybe?
What does your mind jump to when you imagine it guarding a treasure trove inside a dark cave? Does it make you want to risk it all for the gold?
Do you picture a Godzilla-like monster roaming a busy city in Japan or America wreaking havoc?
Now imagine that same hideous dragon is sitting beside you at your local movie theater watching the newest Star Wars.
Pretty odd, I know.
Imagine it’s sitting there munching on a bag of popcorn and gulping down copious amounts of Coca-Cola and making that slurping sound with the straw. You think about telling it to behave, but you remember it’s a dragon and hey, it could eat you alive if it felt like chomping on a bigger snack.
You think maybe it’s friendly like the one in the Disney movie, Pete’s Dragon. Maybe it doesn’t want any trouble like the one in Kenneth Grahame’s story, The Reluctant Dragon. A pacifist dragon. One who enjoys reading poetry and avoids confrontation…
Then, suddenly, it begins to choke on a popcorn kernel and you think No way am I giving this thing the Heimlich maneuver! And as you’re wrestling with whether you should save the dragon’s life or not, it coughs up the kernel – flames incinerating all of the seats between you and the front of the screen. Luckily no one else is watching the movie in those rows, but the smoke blinds you to the point of zero visibility.
You’ve finally had enough, and you decide to wave the blinding fog away and stand up to say something to the beast.
But when you do, the dragon is gone.
So is the theater and the smoky atmosphere.
You’re left scratching your head, because the scales and the fears you felt were so real just moments ago.
Was it all in your head?
Then, a co-worker slaps you on the back, and asks if you’re all right.
You wave them away, standing in your work break room, as the smell of Orville Redenbacher’s Extra Butter hits your nose.
You stare at a greasy, spilled bag on the tiled floor, and realize your co-worker has helped you not choke to death on a buttery handful of popcorn. The kernels scattered everywhere and the smell of burnt popcorn in the air.
You are the dragon. Your face is the one staring back at you in the break room mirror, and you know the truth.
Your friend has helped you not die.
And all you can think to do is hug them, and tell them how much you love them for helping you become un-dragoned.
The friend is confused, but you know what they’ve done. In a weird, scaly epiphany, you recognize how precious life is. How much is at stake in every breath. Every day. Every choice to do right or wrong for others.
Without a friend. Without a savior. The dragon remains at-large and dangerous within you. Within me. Within all of us.
We thank God the dragon has a rescuer. It’s a miracle. Every. Single. Day. To see the transformation from dragon back to person back to good.
Brian L. Tucker