Please Don’t Feed the Red Dragon

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I was back in the Amazon rainforest (I really am going to have to write about that some day).  I was staying in a two-story house there. I looked out the window into my neighbors’ yard.

My neighbor had a giant swimming pool.  Next to the pool was a gigantic red snake, chained to a tree.  The size of this snake was staggering, big enough to swallow a human being whole.  I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to keep it as a pet.  It seemed dangerous, like it could break free at any moment.

My neighbors came out, carrying giant meat balls.  They pushed them into the pool.  The snake slithered into the pool and began eating the meatballs.  I could feel that as the snake ate each meatball, it was getting larger.  Stronger.

I watched in horror.  Don’t feed it, I thought.  Don’t feed it!!!

My friends were in another room – I thought about yelling out to them, so that they could behold this montrosity, but something prevented me from doing so.

The snake grew legs and looking more and more like a red dragon.  My neighbors jumped in the pool and swam with it.

All of a sudden, the snake-dragon burst from its chains and started attacking the neighbors.  They screamed and tried to escape, but the dragon grabbed them in its jaws and tossed them about.

I turned to leave the room, to shout to my friends to come and see, and then I saw one of my neighbors leap up into my open window.  I ran toward her to try to pull her in, but she fell back down again.

The dragon then burst through my neighbors’ backyard wall and escaped into the jungle.

I ran to my friends, screaming, “GUYS!  GUYS! DRAGON!  There’s a dragon loose.  We gotta get out of here.”

Suddenly our garage door opened, and two of my neighbors walked in.  My friends and I ran out to meet them.

“Our dragon is loose,” they said.

“I know,” I said.  “What do we do?”  I wanted to take charge myself, but I  really felt out of my depth here.  Besides, it was their dragon.

“Have you all seen it?” the neighbors asked.

I nodded, but my friends shook their head.

The neighbors looked at me, surprised that I hadn’t shown my friends what was happening.  They pulled out their smart phones and showed them pictures of the dragon.

That’s when I woke up.

***********

I had this dream a couple weeks ago.

I’d been dealing with a lot of anger and frustration lately.  Still am, truth be told.

Angry that I don’t seem to be able to get myself situated in a way of life that’s in harmony with who I am- that I’m in my mid-30s and still feel as helpless and volatile and conflicted as I was when I was 13.

That the constant influx of spiritual energy I’ve been dealing with has made it so difficult to concentrate and function normally.

Angry that I don’t live in a society equipped with the wisdom teachings and initiation rituals that would have helped me navigate through this metaphysical terrain, and that my lack of knowledge could very well cost me my sanity, or even my life.

Anger over what’s being done to Mother Earth in the name of greed and profit.

All this anger has been building and building…

Then I had this dream.

And I started wondering if a serious attitude adjustment was in order.

If I put my mind to it, I can exercise a great deal of control over my consciousness.  Over the years, I learned to tap into the aspect of myself where love, peace, and strength abide.  I can do it at will, no matter where I am.

So why haven’t I been doing that?  Why instead have I been feeding the anger?

Because I convinced myself that I can’t afford to be happy.  Life on this planet is so messed up, so desperately out of control, that it seems to me that the only ones that can survive are the cynics.  I think that’s why I’ve always been drawn to film noir – stories of cities where glitter and glamor abound, but underneath everything is rotten and corrupt. The great detective heroes – like Phillip Marlowe – know the truth behind the facade.  They’re cold, hardened warriors who know better than to let anyone or anything get too close.

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“Evening, Mrs. Taggart.”
“Evening, Detective.”
“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a dark alley like this?”
“Waiting for you.”
“Aw, that’s sweet. Is it a surprise party?”
“Surprise, surprise.”
“Looks like you got me a wheelbarrow. I hate to tell you this, but I already got one.”
“It’s not for you, dummy, it’s for me.”
“For you? Then where’s my gift?”
“It’s at the morgue. You wanna see it?”
“No, thanks. That place creeps me out.”
“Don’t worry. Once we’re there, you won’t a feel a thing. That’s why I brought the wheelbarrow…”
“You’ll never get away with it.”
“Yes, I will. My husband’s the mayor.”
“No, I mean I’ll never fit in that wheelbarrow.”
“Good point. You’re much bigger than I remember.”
“That’s what they all say…”

My dream about the red dragon reminded me of the Cherokee legend about the two wolves:

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.

I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy.  It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.  I have struggled with these feelings many times.”  He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me.  One is good and does no harm.  He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended.  He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

But the other wolf, ah!  He is full of anger.  The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper.  He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason.  He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great.  It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.

Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

The red dragon is my rage and hatred.

The neighbors feeding the dragon, despite the danger, symbolizes the way in which I feed my anger and hatred, ignorant of the damage that I’m doing to myself.

The escape of the dragon means that if I continue to feed into my darkness, I’ll lose control of it, and it will not only negatively affect me but those around me.

I need to start feeding the GOOD dragon again.

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are you would never think a negative thought. They can be a powerful influence for good when they’re on the positive side, and they can and do make you physically ill when they’re on the negative side.

I recall a man 65 years old when I knew him who manifested symptoms of what seemed a chronic physical illness. I talked with him and I realized that there was some bitterness in his life, although I could not find it at once. He got along well with his wife and his grown children, and he got along will in his community, but the bitterness was there just the same. I found that he was harboring bitterness against his long-dead father because his father had educated his brother and not him. As soon as he was able to relinquish this bitterness, the so-called chronic illness began to fade away, and soon it was gone.

If you’re harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They aren’t hurting anyone but you. It is said that hate injures the hater, not the hated. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things, you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”  – Peace Pilgrim

I have a lot of resistance to thid notion, because I don’t think I respect people who are always saying, “Think positive.”  I feel like these people purposefully blind themselves to the horrors of the world in order to maintain a emotional-mental bubble of security.

But maybe that’s all bullshit.  Maybe by refusing to think positive, I’m the one that’s shirking the responsibility of being a positive force in the world that desperately needs positive force.

Which makes me think about one last part of my dream.  The fact that I didn’t tell any of my friends what was happening.

I didn’t warn them about the danger next door.  I didn’t bring them to the window so that they could see what was happening.  I tried to shield them from what was happening because I didn’t want them to be afraid.  I didn’t warn them until the dragon had already escaped.

A lot of people – friends and family – are worried about me.  I haven’t been telling them about the things I’ve been experiencing because I don’t want to frighten them.  So I just shut myself down.  Isolate myself.  And that’s made people worry even more.

So the thing I say that I hate about people who say “think positive”- which is that they avoid painful truths – is the very thing that I do.

It’s not too late, I thought.  I know the place within me where love abides.  I can tune into it, channel it into my life – even now, though it feels like everything is falling to pieces. 

Besides, positive thinking makes you healthier, so there must be something to it.

So I started to do it.  I tried a one-week experiment where I resolved to only think positive thoughts.

More later…

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