Dragon de­nial is not a very good idea

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - OPINION -

DRAGONS are won­der­ful crea­tures. Di­verse cul­tures sym­bol­ise dif­fer­ent as­pects of them. In West­ern cul­ture, the dragon rep­re­sents chaos and de­struc­tion and em­bod­ies fear­some en­ergy. An­cient car­tog­ra­phers used to write “Here be dragons” over the most dan­ger­ous or un­ex­plored parts of their maps. In the East, dragons bring good luck, yet still re­tain the un­der­stand­ing of ran­dom­ness and un­pre­dictabil­ity. Fear­some crea­tures as they are, small won­der that dragons fea­ture in many chil­dren’s sto­ries. Most fa­mous per­haps is Smaug, in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It is worth re­mem­ber­ing that in the story, Smaug the dragon sleeps on gold. The im­pli­ca­tion be­ing that if you can get your dragon to calm down and go to sleep you may be able to take a re­ward of in­sight and wis­dom: those rare-as-gold hu­man qual­i­ties. My favourite chil­dren’s dragon story is by Jack Kent and ti­tled, There’s NO Such Thing as a Dragon. It can be found, be­ing read aloud on YouTube. In the sto­ry­book, Billy Bixby wakes up one morn­ing to find a lit­tle dragon, the size of a kit­ten, in his bed­room. He pats the dragon and it wags its tail. Billy rushes to tell Mother who firmly de­nies Billy’s re­al­ity. So Billy goes back to his room and ig­nores the dragon, be­cause you can’t re­late to some­thing you have been told doesn’t ex­ist! Well, this de­nial is not a good idea. The dragon keeps grow­ing, de­vours all but one of Billy’s break­fast pan­cakes, and falls asleep in the hall where it con­tin­ues to grow. All morn­ing Mother tries to clean the house around the dragon but with it grow­ing she even­tu­ally has to climb out­side through win­dows and into other rooms be­cause the dragon now fills all the rooms. By noon, the dragon has oc­cu­pied the en­tire home. Neck and head stick­ing out the front door and tail out the back. Then the dragon wakes up and is ravenously hun­gry. The bak­ery van drives by and the smell of fresh bread sends the dragon crazy. It rushes after the van, car­ry­ing the en­tire house with it “like the shell of a snail” . Poor Mr Bixby gets home for lunch and the first thing he sees is his house is gone. He asks the neigh­bours and then goes search­ing for his home and fam­ily. When he finds them, he asks how all this hap­pened and Billy be­gins to de­scribe the dragon. Mother again tries deny­ing dragons but Billy cuts her short. “But there IS a dragon,” he shouts and be­gins to pat the dragon. The pat­ting causes the dragon to shrink back to kit­ten size. Mother fi­nally ac­cepts she can live with the re­al­ity of a small, man­age­able dragon and Fa­ther asks why it got so big. Billy ends the book say­ing, “Maybe it just wanted to be no­ticed”. Debt, ad­dic­tion, bit­ter­ness and trauma are just a few forms dragons may take. Deny them at your peril. ý Woods is a pas­toral ther­a­pist.

PETER WOODS

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