Dragons always remind me of what is sacred. Much over-popularized in games and movies, dragons once occupied a holy place in the mythology of nerds. Part of the namesake of the most ancient of basement entertainments, dragons were the quintessential “better half” of Dungeons and Dragons. For every role-player began their adventure traipsing through dungeons, but few would ever lay eyes on a dragon.
Not for long, at least.
Dragons are the most majestic of lore. Kings of Fantasy. They are Benevolent Overseers of Moral Perfection, such as Dragonheart’s Draco – protecting the Knight’s Code and having faith in man. They are Malevolent Usurpers of Perverse Degradation, such as the well told tale of Smaug. But in each case, they are larger than life. Singular in their greatness. In 15 years of playing Dungeons and Dragons, travelling through countless countrysides, I can safely say I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve set (imaginary) eyes on one.
Each time, whether I was 16 or 26, it caught my breath. They were the pinnacle. The 7 figure salary of the role-player.
It is strange that they should be so, however. There are a slew of other mythical beasts just as strange and terrifying. If not more. Certainly, titans and sprites, pixies, and the undead should compare. Dragons, when stripped of their divine aura, are really just big lizards with wings that spit fire. They are made up of components other animals that we master and cage on a regular basis.
Fantasy, as a genre, has become more acceptable over the years. With it, so has the metaphorical inflation rate – dragons are far more common. It has eroded the divinity of the creature, while keeping its scales and talons.
But I like that. No matter how familiar a dragon becomes, it will always maintain its sense of nobility, presence for me. But I like that as more come to know draconic glory through tale and song, it becomes a more familiar beast.
We are dragons. Sacred by our own right – benevolent or perverse. Some of us sit on mountains of treasure that was never truly ours to begin with, while others fight for the glory and equality of our world. And as media spreads the word of our greatness further and faster, we are revealed as the fleshy contraptions of biology and chemistry that we are.
We have not become less sacred. Just more understood.
Over a hill of cascading yellow crops, the ground is ablaze with colour. This smile of nature reflects the sun, as a child’s reflects the beauty of his mother. The gentle dips of the land are dimples of a young countryside.
We are not sick forever. I would, could I offer a salve for your heart, give in abundance. How much more your wretched body – the peevishly defiant thing. Let me take you away.
That youthful ground is the perfect perch to see the clouds. Gently expanding, floating effortlessly against a blue sky, they are an oasis of the Muse. An upside-down ocean, the sky is married to the promise of adventure, and the birds sing. Onward, clouds! Hurry! Enjoy our secret pleasures of speed and distance! Travel the world! But those gracious fluffy things simply laugh, and happily remain. For where else will flying dreamers rest their feet?
I think your body learned its wry petulance from you. Your spirit is ever a cheerful rebel; a sophisticated anarchist. How could your body not sarcastically return what you offer in everyday osmosis? Your rousing independence. Forgive it, its sins. It knows exactly what it does: its rallying cry is a confirmation of your strength and freedom.
And, like your soul, it will soften again. You will not be sick forever.
Peeking through a kaleidoscope of cloud is the only way to enjoy the garden. And this garden, through these cotton candy clouds, framed by a smiling landscape, offers honest beauty with no desire to compare. Ornate gates offer entrance, though no fence exists to suggest otherwise. A single rusted hinge squeals to the entrants declaring beauty in humor. The inspired laughter of innocents inside also affirms the opposite. Amidst a rainbow of colours and pathways, a single plaque on a lone pedestal offers a word:
Rest, and get well soon.
The Earth is the most graceful person I know.
The art of Grace is a subtlety. It is neither deception nor equivocation, and yet it is not truth. To be achieved, it requires a misdirection of multiple parts.
Firstly, the person on whom the subtlety is acted must take a perception that is true. Often, it is believed that grace includes only that the person believes it to be true, but that is a cubic zirconia. A gold-digger’s grace; mere deception. The truth of the perception received must be real, both in the mind of the Graceful and in actual fact.
A skill of real grace is revealed if the perceiver does not, entirely believe the truthful fact themselves. A master will leave an amateur perceiver believing they have perpetrated a misdirection of their own design – that the Graceful believes a falsity. A complete reversal of reality, not by design, but by the weakness of the perceiver. A veteran perceiver will more quickly turn to doubt than confidence – a modest humility or a selfless skepticism. But the truth-in-fact, and the truth in the Graceful’s mind of the perception must remain.
Secondly, the person on whom the subtlety is acted must take an old perception as original. This is not to be confused with making the previously unperceived, perceived. For that is a makeup. A harlot’s grace; mere equivocation. The truth of this perception must have come previously, true in the perceiver’s mind by some other affirmation. It is only born-again.
The skill of real grace in this case is revealed by the weight of the revelation. A master will leave an amateur believing that the perception is entirely new; lightning from the sky. A veteran perceiver will instead believe that it is a phoenix; a thing once dead but breathed life again, wearing new feathers.
Thirdly, the effect of the perception in the first step must be to have the perceiver accept the proposition reborn but unsaid in the second. This is to be an obvious step, but not one that follows from necessity, and so the Graceful must follow through. It is easy for the perceiver, left unguided at this point, to consider these two perceptions as separate instances, and so immediately reject the second as brilliant, beautiful but ultimately unsupportable. While the arrogance of the amateur will complete the process, a veteran perceiver will quickly recognize this. The skill of the Graceful is defined in their ability to provide the bridge.
It is then that the Graceful has communicated that which is true, with a statement that is true, while never claiming any ownership to the thing at all, and offering the platitude of ownership to the perceiver, without cost, should they so desire it.
The Earth is an incredible source of Grace. How quickly we perceive the truth of nature’s beauty and bounty – so ever-present and self-evident. How easily it ignites all of our feelings of human passion, spirit, and glory – with an inexplicable newness, every time. And surely, even the skeptics (and surely the humble!), accept the two as connected. If our soul shares one ounce of that splendor, how could that brilliance be rejected? We, who are made in His Image, are at least to that extent, Gods ourselves. We, who come from dirt, share all the romance and perfection of that dirt.
Perfect Grace is the impossible art of providing a positive by proving a negative. It requires the expression of a truth through the provision of an infinite number of independent and unique truths. The Earth offers the single answer of its nature to billions of perceivers every day. They, no matter their own acceptance of it, see the truth in it. In turn, they see the value it offers them and their own humanity.
The Earth, every day, proves a negative.
As time would (always) have it, it’s now also a relic of a time gone by.
It’s a CD. At one time regarded as the evolution of a “mix tape,” this CD contains a careful selection of 24 folk-y, whimsical tunes. No names auto-populate into iTunes when it’s tossed into my laptop. The artists are largely forgotten to both the old and the young – it’s an obscure collection known to a particular age group. And, save for their 15 minutes of fame, these artists were really only the admired of a select few. To be honest, I don’t think I could even tell you who they are.
The disk’s surface is blank, with only the demarcation Fav’s scrawled in black felt marker. And when I put it into a CD-player, I know three things:
1) I cannot remember for the life of me what’s on it.
2) I’m going to enjoy the next 24 songs
3) I’ll have my best friend beside me.
The first time I encountered this CD was in the passenger-side seat of my friend’s car, driving a road-trip across the province. He opened his glove compartment and there lay 7 or 8 CDs. All labeled in his perfectly enigmatic hand: Folk, Laid-Back, Jazz, Home…. We listened through them all, including Fav’s. I can’t say that there was anything that stood out about this CD more than others. He certainly didn’t covet it more than the others, suggesting that its name was a category of a bygone time. But we listened to it just the same.
Now, years later, having been through road-trips, jobs, living situations, and a litany of other experiences together, we’ve parted ways. Of course, we live in a world where “parting ways” is a ridiculous sentiment. Social media, smart-phones, and cheaper-than-ever transportation ensure that we’re never really separated. We’re together at the click of a button (and an overpriced internet package).
But, that same media has a single shortcoming – it can only help us fill in the future.
On a road-trip, one is reminded of the stoicism, longevity, and raw, rich beauty of the world around us. And that beauty is a generation of its history. It is certainly a reminder of the grandiose importance of existence – of our generating new memories and new experiences. (Indeed, that’s the very nature of a road-trip!). But if someone is really watching the scenery in between watching the traffic, they cannot help but be impressed upon by the sheer beauty filled in by those experiences long since passed.
24 tracks of my favourite friend. Our past. Our history.
I live in prized countryside.
A rose by any other name, does not, in fact, smell as sweet. I’ll concede to Shakespeare only that the smell would be the same. But sweetness fair Juliet spoke of, she smelled with her heart.
And the world over speaks of Montague and Capulet. What is in these names? ‘Tis, as our heroine’s wisdom suggests, not their anger, their love, nor any other part of their tragedy. But a name is something. And in it is something else. For we would not have heard of such love, nor would it have had such celebration, were Romeo’s body to find a different name.
I dare to suggest, to such a beautiful Juliet, that her greatest and only beloved would have thrown away perfection itself, were he to bid his name away as she wistfully commanded. And that is certainly was not what she wanted.
But how could she know? How could she know that what made Romeo so perfect was not merely the intoxicating loin-spark of his lust, nor the scandal of his endless reach? In his name was the forbidden fruit. In his name was the very marriage that made him perfect.
I have tasted a name. I have tasted many. I keep them, like one would keep good books – on the shelf of a mind, where a heart can go from time to time to remember what it’s digested.
I have names that are fun games. Simple memories. I have names that carry the mantle of my deep anger and disappointment. And I have names that conjure the impossible. Names that have changed me.
I even have one or two that are legacies of emotion.
We all do.
I don’t think I should like a rose so much as if it was called something else, though it might smell just the same. What’s in a name. What’s in a name is whatever I give it. Whatever you give it. Whatever we give it. And that gift is never nothing.
Shakespeare did not give the world 2 names. He gave 2 names the world. The world of love, of suffering, and of beauty.
And he let his namesakes be humble for him. But they knew. They knew like I know, and you know. What’s in a name is far more than any one part of a (wo)man. It is where we’re coming from. It’s what will go forward. It is where yesterday’s sunset meets tomorrow’s dawn. It is where tragedy and comedy join hand in hand in constant orgasmic resolution.
It is where everything is important. What’s in a name.
The shadow has stern lips.
A kiss from those lips is both treasure and travesty. For in the sweet seduction of an evening serenade there is a sadistic self-exclusion. And she is exceedingly efficient in those ministrations. Her lips extract her pleasures meticulously.
At first, it seems as though she promises nothing and implies everything. A passer-by is wooed into becoming a lover by the exceptional cool amongst her poise. She does not dance. Nor sing. Nor laugh. Nor embrace. She merely is, and she bears a chill that is neither comfortable nor cold. But she feels reminiscent of something that one might have wrapped themselves in, once upon a time.
She has no soul. She presents no eyes to gaze into; a journey to discover her character is an endless and fruitless thing. Unlike the Abyss, she does not proffer an endless evaporation of her lover’s efforts, and reciprocates no twisting of the seduced. She is merely a candle flame in the wind: out. Through such a condition she consumes offerings of spirit meaninglessly. Almost as an inconvenience to her existence.
Her nose rejects the claims of mortal men. They have no dominion over her. It is only here that she can be said to have any viewable personality. It is in her sense of scent that she provides haughty certainty: That she is all at once desirable and unavailable. To grasp at her is to attempt to redeem claims never made. One cannot own the air she exists in, as surely as she herself cannot be owned. But both smell sweet with promise.
Her skin is a dream’s love. Untouchable, it is the pale of non-existence itself. It conjures an image in ever mind that will never know it. It is singlehandedly the most hypocritical of the shadow’s features. For nothing has more presence within a lover’s mind than the tender skin it wishes to caress. And yet, nothing is less tangible than the form of the dark beloved. Here, yearning is born and borne.
But, though the lover carries yearning and desire into unrequited madness, the shadow remains unmoved. ‘Till she herself is consumed into midnight’s bosom, she offers nothing but stern lips and silence.