Defining Dragons

Where does this “dragon” metaphor come from anyway?

Well, a while back I asked for advice on how to handle getting started fighting and in particular the issue of challenges.  I asked a handful of SCA Knights I hold in very high regard and among the responses I received was the phrase “run after the biggest dragon you can.”

The imagery and metaphor has stuck with me and so I have decided to embrace it as such.

What has proven to be of interest to me is that my “dragons” aren’t exactly specific people, but more about the internal challenges I have to face just being able to get out and fight in the first place.  In a very short time I have come to realize that a part of what is going on in my head is the idea that I need to feel a certain level of confidence, but more importantly a certain level of competence.

A dear friend who has already been a significant guide on my path pointed out to me that I am a highly competent person in so many other areas of my life that I need to feel that competency everywhere in my life.  When I don’t I am off balance and experience trepidation.

Ooof.  I’ve spent so long being considered good (even a master) at so many things that I’ve stagnating in my own thinking and I didn’t even realize it.  When she said this to me it was very definitely a light switch moment.  One of many I am sure will be coming down the line and one that I’m sure I’m neither the first, nor the last, to experience.

I have been fighting rapier for about the past ten years now.  I am a Guildmaster of Fence.  One doesn’t get there without being pretty darn competent.

I am a member of The Order of The Laurel.  One doesn’t get there without being pretty darn competent.

I am a member of The Order of The Pelican.  You get the pattern….

What is also interesting to me right now is that while my dragons aren’t exactly specific people, they are to a certain extent represented by people.  I am finding myself identifying some particular person and saying “tonight, that’s my dragon.”  Then I go fight that person and win or lose (so far a generally satisfying mix of both) I feel better because I went and “hunted that dragon.”  But the reason they are/were a dragon that time is still not necessarily clear to me.  I am sure that in some cases it will be just intimidation (I’ve faced a few dragons on the rapier field already so I am familiar with them), but also there seems to be some internal struggle that I am applying to them.

I don’t know that I am going to find myself hunting a new dragon every practice or every tourney, but I am starting to see the pattern emerge and that is putting me in to the right learning mindset.

I am a person who observes, absorbs, and tests.  I need to understand what is happening.  When I decide it’s time to go in to a situation of any kind it’s because I believe that I have enough information to progress.  Or, at the very least, enough information to know how to get started and the tools I need to figure out what I don’t know yet.

There are other factors that dictate when I am fighting and who I am fighting.  I am, for example, diabetic which means there are physical things I need to think about especially when I am exercising in any fashion that could be considered more extremely strenuous.  I do sit and take a sort of mental catalog of my current physical state that tells me whether or not I have not just the strength but the energy to actually get up and do one more bout.  There are signs I know to look for in my body that tell me that I am pushing my limits and that I need to rest, or I need to eat, or whatever I need to do in order to keep my physical well being in check.

So my illness is one more dragon.

Do I have a good definition of what a dragon is right now?  Not really, but I think I’m starting to get it.  And we’ll see if I can make sense of it sooner or later.

In the meantime if you overhear me muttering something about dragons, now you’ll know why.


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