On Slaying Dragons

Green dragon For a while, I was obsessed with the idea of slaying dragons. Perhaps it started when I read Tolkien’s immortal tale of The Hobbit, but it didn’t end there. Whenever low clouds would obscure the tops of the nearby foothills, I’d dream about venturing up there to slay the dragon that surely existed within the fog, in some hard-to-find cave.

But I never did it. I’d do what I needed to do that day in town. I’d work, I’d shop, I’d eat, I’d sleep. By the time I did these things, the dragon seemed an impossible chore.

I wondered if I’d really have my fight-to-the-death with a 30 meter long dragon. A dragon who was mostly green, could obviously fly, and had a small but valuable collection of precious metals and gems. Money is not something dragons care about.

Why I didn’t go off to fight my dragon was always a vexing question for me. After all, he was always there when the clouds came low. I could find him if I but looked.

Perhaps I was rightly afraid that I would lose. That he would overpower me. After all, all I had was a sword; he could breathe fire and fly. And I’d certainly been in better shape at other times in my life.

Perhaps I was sure that he wasn’t really worth fighting. After all, I’d heard no recent reports that my dragon had been doing any great damage. He seemed to have grown somewhat complacent in his old age, or perhaps he was merely becoming soft.

Then, one day, I came upon a bronze placard. It had these words by the famous Brian Andreas:

Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning & loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.

At first, I thought that Mr. Andreas what quite a joker. What could be more important than slaying an immortal beast? Then bringing back his treasure and sharing it with the people, now safe from his tyranny.

With time, Mr. Andreas’s words would come to my mind again and again. It didn’t seem like this man could have meant it as a joke. I began to think more and more of all that was good in the world. Less and less about my dragon. He wasn’t terrorizing the villagers after all.

Today, my dragon and I are old friends who’ve never met. I don’t worry about him much, and I’m glad of that. I’m happy to know that he’s there when I need him. But mostly, I’m happy just to be alive. Harrowing stories of great victories cannot make a man happier if he isn’t glad for all he has. Mr. Andreas taught me that.

10 responses to “On Slaying Dragons”

  1. “Try waking up every morning & loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.”

    So true. So difficult not to become cynical, jaded or just plain disgusted sometimes. Great quote.

  2. I have to say I agree with the “real hero” statement as well.

    It never ceases to amaze me…so many people have more burdens to bear and they don’t complain, while others have less burdens and think they have more.


    Good post.

  3. I’ve had that B.A. piece hanging on my wall for years… probably since about the time you wrote this. Did you know that?

    Another of my favorites from Mr. Andreas (in the same vein):
    “there is a giant block of whatever is most difficult for you to carry & trust me on this, you’ll carry it more times than you can count until you decide that’s exactly what you want to do & then it won’t weigh a thing any more.”