Enter the Dragon

First off, as I write this I am struck by the fact that I have live music that comes to me through my computer.  It’s lovely to be able to tune into #ds106radio or to skype with Sean Hillaby and have sweet sounds coming to me.  Thanks for the tunes all!

So, as I was listening to #ds106radio on new years eve, @Stephen_Hurley was playing lovely piano and chatting (very much like he’s doing right now as I write this blog post) about his yearly tradition of choosing a word to guide him.  What a fantastic idea!  My own experience with choosing a title (like a musician) and working within that identity had shown me the power of just deciding to ‘be’ a type of person.  So I began to think about some of the words I could use to frame my world in the upcoming year.

After chatting for a bit with my sister @plind on skype, I greeted @cogdog and @giuliaforsythe and we shared some stories and chit chat while tuning in to the casa bava new years cast.  I shared Stephen’s story, and deepened my resolve (and theirs!) in choosing a word.

I passed on the story throughout the evening and when I awoke this morning, and then promptly went back to bed, and woke up this afternoon, I continued to meditate on my word.

I noticed that @malynmawby had put up a sweet post, and followed her ideas to my first exposure to Joseph Campbell.  The interview helped me to further conceptualize my word, both in filling out the ideas, but also in a visual representation as I sat and listened.
Before watching the interview I had considered the word ‘courage’ and what it could mean.  Why had such a word leapt out at me?  I realized that it was directed at my plans for the summer: returning to Alberta to make music with my friend Sean.  While this sounds easy and a whole lot of fun on one level, moments of doubt from the last year have left a lasting impression on me.  When we share our gifts, especially those that we are just encouraging into existence, there is always that epic battle with feelings of inadequacy.  Self-consciousness can be crushing – paralyzing – and it’s so hard to sing with an elephant of doubt sitting on your heart.  And so I chose this word – COURAGE – as a mantra for myself in those moments.  I have a feeling, though, that this word will reveal itself in complex ways that I cannot yet anticipate.

Joseph Campbell’s talk of ego (somewhere around ¾ of the way through the video) resonated with me.  He spoke of the mythology around the European dragon.  It is a selfish creature that guards gold and virgins, two things that it cannot use itself, but that it hoards for its value to others.  When we bind ourselves to our ego – to those ideas of what we want to be, who we are, what we can and can’t do, what the aim of our life is – we trap ourselves within our own dragon’s cage.  You see, all these things are relational.  Not a single one of them exists in isolation from others and from the world around us.  I cannot do, be, think, love, dream without interacting with the whole of existence that is around me.  That great dragon of my ego guards these notions from the outside forces that give them value in the first place.  What’s more, the dragon keeps me in an existence that may be too small to fully encompass my potential.  When I hear myself saying “oh no, I couldn’t do that” I will recognize this as my dragon blocking me in, keeping me from, as Campbell puts it, my “soul’s high adventure.”  How do you slay the dragon?  Of course… follow your bliss.

So the dragon came to be on my bit of artwork that will come along in my nomadic knapsack.  It was only after the fact that I realized that the coming lunar year is that of the dragon!  And the great news is that the Chinese dragon yields the bounty and is a great laughing spirit that reminds us of the vitality of life.  Oh 2012… with courage we shall explore…


4 Responses to “Enter the Dragon”

  1. I’m so glad you got so much out of my ‘sweet post’ leading you on to ‘follow your bliss’. I’d love to sit down and discuss that with you face-to-face (come surf my couch!).

    At first I thought it strange that you should choose a word I thought you already possessed. Reading on, it made me realize that yes, it makes sense. We all have fears and doubts – albeit everything is relative. Who was it who said “I’m my own worst enemy?” Maybe everyone has, more than once, facing up to the “dragon of my ego”. Such are moments of personal growth, on the edge of ‘bliss’.

    Your post reminded me of another of mine – The story of Claire: Art to express dyslexia. It’s one of my favourites in many levels.

    I wish you well on your 2012 journey. And should your courage falter, know I’m not too far away to bolster you up – ping me, if you have to!

  2. Interesting parallelism…the upcoming asian new year is the year of the dragon…

  3. Whaat a beautiful piece of writing, Lesley! Thanks for sharing this! It is great to reconnect with Joseph Campbell through your writing. I first encountered him in the 70’s through the numerous PBS “telethon” specials that I watched. I was entranced then, and I was only 15!

    Following your bliss, finding your element, living in a state of flow–all of these remind me that there is an inner core in each of us that needs to be honoured, nurtured and lived! And, more and more, that takes courage.

    I’m reminded of one of my favourite films, The Wizard of Oz, where many of the things that we need for the journey are living right inside of us, waiting to be discovered. Once discovered, they need to be enacted.

    I look forward to keeping in touch with you this year to see how your word is helping to provide a frame. I have a feeling that you already have much to say about my word, fluency!

    If you want a great Campbell fix, check out http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Hero-with-Thousand-Faces-Joseph-Campbell/9780691017846-item.html?ikwid=hero+with+a+thousand+faces&ikwsec=Home

    I’ve bookmarked your blog, and I’m looking forward to reading more as you carve out this space a little more!

  4. Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no data backup.
    Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

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