January 5, 2022
But lately I have learned what it is to be human. Learned, but not understood. It seems to involve a great deal of misery crammed into a very short lifetime. ~ R.A. MacAvoy, Tea with the Black Dragon
I’m still marveling at the difference it has made to look the dragon of fear in the eye and survive the stare-down.
I didn’t make too much of it at the time. It seemed like just another in a series of gentle revelations I’ve been gifted with over the years. And it wasn’t even a new notion. Of course fear lies beneath what I consider my undesirable behavior. I’m impatient and irritated with problems because I’m afraid I can’t fix them, and panicky because they must be dealt with.
I find it much more comfortable to focus on panic and the what-if cornucopia rather than the underlying fear. I can tell myself that solving the problem will banish panic and worry.
Sitting down to tea with the dragon of fear that spawns these other emotions might be a novel way to defuse it. But I believe there is an old and honorable tradition that, once you have invited an enemy into your home and broken bread with them, they cease to be your enemy.
My fear dragon sits quietly beside me. “Cookie?“ I inquire, offering the plate of shortbread.
“Thank you,“ replies the dragon. As it nibbles delicately on the buttery treat, I become aware that it is no longer a dragon, but a twin of myself, looking back at me with wise eyes and a secretive smile quirking the lips.
I’m reminded that acknowledgment and acceptance of something I don’t like, such as this fearsome dragon, is nothing more than recognition. It’s not approval or asking for more of the same.
Just admitting that something exists, and is another shard of light shining from the one source, shifts it out of the column labeled enemy.
I lift my teacup in a toast to the fear aspect of myself. I doubt I will ever embrace it, but I can treat it, and other “unlikeable” aspects I encounter, with civility.
And look forward to the day, which we’re told is soon upon us, when there are no more enemies, internal or external, because we all know in the center of our very selves, that what is out there is us, and we are also it.