Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kill the Dragon*

Into every life, they say, some rain must fall. Sometimes it's a sprinkle, sometimes a deluge. Occasionally a big ole tsunami sweeps through. We sink or swim, over and over again.

I love the archetypal narrative of dragon slaying as an alternative way to meet those moments when life could get the best of you, but doesn't. The sink or swim paradigm is in certain ways more realistic, since we have no control over mighty Mother Nature, since even sometimes when we choose to prevail, the tsunami might overwhelm us anyway.

Nevertheless I like the idea of battling the dragon. It's not so passive as sinking or swimming, it requires mythic levels of courage. It sure as hell seems more heroic. I guess. The "truth" is, dragons can not be slain any more than we can control a flood. A flood is, according to my cosmology, a water dragon anyway, so what's the difference?

Dragon slaying requires more than treading water. One must rise up out of the situation, sword in hand, eyes flashing with fierceness, muscles tense (at least in the stories it looks like that) and engage with whatever it is that's bringing us down.

I'm thinking this morning about people I know who went a lot farther than contemplating suicide; they planned it, they decided how to go about it and they almost completed the act. Some of these people didn't actually die, but something went wrong in the process. They half-died, I guess is the way to say it. They seem always to walk in shadow, they are drugged at all times, unwilling to return fully to life. Others snapped out of it somehow or another; they fought hard. A dragon can not be killed, but because they were brave enough or willing enough to fight, these people came back from the experience more vivid and whole hearted than before. I know at least two, maybe three people who lived through this experience.

I also know people who gave up and sank. I think of my marvelously talented friend Terri Wilson who, in early March of 1991, took too many drugs, lay on the beach with her dog at her side, and died.

Not sure why I'm thinking about these particular people this morning because personally I have never even contemplated suicide. But I drop into some serious tailspins sometimes, I get caught in a big wave, get sucked into a rip tide of one kind or another. That's what last week was for me, a crap week of hopelessness, fear, sadness. I had my reasons - the client who died, another client very ill, and the appearance of Rat. I also blame the eclipse, because I love blaming the planets for everything. (They are large beings and don't really care.)

Yesterday I could have hidden inside the chateau all day, thereby prolonging my emotional slog. A friend called to invite me out for the Barracks Row parade. I said yes. Then I went to the movies with another dear one, after which I wandered home through the throngs of people dressed in red, white and blue down on the mall. Yesterday evening I walked around the corner to a neighborhood barbecue. I engaged with people, the arts (the movie, Midnight in Paris, was adorable), the energy of the day. I laughed, feasted, walked, drank sangria. So as it turns out, the 4th of July was a really fun day, as it has been in the past - just different from the good old days on Tennessee Avenue.

Yep, I rose from the flood, lifted my sword. I "killed" the dragon. Today I'm feeling good, I'm back to myself. Many grateful thanks to the friends who encouraged me to get out and about. Thanks too to God, and the dragons too, bless their fiery hearts. L'chaim, y'all. Onwards and upwards.

*Not talking about Rat. He disappeared a couple of nights ago and has not returned. The trap is still loaded. I haven't had the nerve to check under the sink, his favorite hangout, to see if there are any new droppings. I needed a break from ratting. But maybe he's gone. Ya think?


mouse (aka kimy) said...

lovely to hear how unexpected pleasures and outings came your way yesterday turning the fourth into a fun one!!

as it should be......

namaste friend!

Reya Mellicker said...

Namaste to you, too.

SG said...

We all have those days when we must fight the dragon. (On some of mine, I feel like turning back and running away). Happy to hear that the 4th put an end to those days. And I'm sure, happy days await you.

ellen abbott said...

glad to hear you have come out of your funk. I fall into them too though they rarely last more than three or four days.

it was quiet around here for the fourth though I did hear a string or two of firecrackers go off about 11 PM. for some reason Wharton celebrates it the week before with a parade a small festival around the square, live music and fireworks.

Linda Sue said...

Falling into funks scare me a little, having been clinically depressed at one time in my life- I never want to dip into that well again! Great to have friends who can flip the switch back on. And the rat- maybe he is a more thoughtful, sensitive being, maybe he felt that he wasn't exactly welcome, maybe he has had Buddhist training. maybe he packed up and went to a place, not quite as nice as yours.

Reya Mellicker said...

Linda Sue, a friend of mine did some between-the-worlds negotiations with Rat, gave me some great advice. Maybe it worked - we shall see!

jeanette from everton terrace said...

While reading your post I was thinking that I don't know anyone who has tried to end their life, then I realized perhaps I do and just don't know it. Hmmmm....
So glad you let the joy back in :)

Kerry said...

The people I've known who ended their lives have all been young people, fighting the demons of depression and bipolar disorders, with their lives spread out before them. They just saw no way of winning the battle. I like to think that the battles can be, if not won, at least managed; I guess that's one difference between suicide victims and the rest of us.

Wasn't Midnight in Paris a charmer? I loved that movie, a good one to see if you've been down.

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes Kerry it was totally adorable.

I've known people of all ages who suffered from the urge to off themselves, also who have actually done it. Terri was 30-ish. It wasn't as tragic when someone I know, suffering from Parkinson's, 90 years old, did it. Sad but not tragic.

The half dead people are the spookiest and saddest ones, I think, all doped up on some kind of mood stabilizer, neither here nor there.

"Demons" is exactly the word the Sufi acupuncturist would use to describe the impulse to commit suicide. I've never felt that impulse, strangely because I am a depressive by nature. I'm not complaining though.

Reya Mellicker said...

The ones who fight the dragon - you know - put down the gun, throw away the pills, snap out of that trance and turn their lives around? Those are my favorite people EVER.

Reya Mellicker said...

Also: recovering alcoholics are mighty. I guess alcoholism is also a dragon that must be slain.

Whitney Lee said...

Having been there I'd say it comes down to bravery most of the time, not having the courage to see if the next moment will maybe be better. But that's simplistic; it's also about losing hope, losing belief in yourself, losing the ability to see beyond the end of your nose...And if I'm being honest sometimes it has to do with not wanting to take responsibility for the role you've played in whatever the present moment holds.

I picked the phoenix for myself. I literally destroyed myself and rose anew. It's all about ME:) Of course, none of the rising from the ashes stuff could have occurred without some Major support!

I agree with SG about having those days. I can usually battle back the demons with music. There's always room for some Beatles "Here Comes the Sun." Or maybe 'there goes the rat.'

Reya Mellicker said...

Whitney you are one of my favorite people, someone who has gazed into the depths but somehow hauled herself (yourself) back up to the surface - and THRIVED. You have fought and triumphed over many demons! I honor you. I do.

Raising Raynor, FidosForFreedom's Puppy-ADIT said...

I love you Reya. Your spirit. Your willingness to put yourself out here. Real.

Your posts always move me. They shine a light in new facets of the crystal of life.

I am not about killing the dragon, what I turn to, is finding a way to walk through the darkness, holding the dragon's hand. or at least acknowledging one another's presence. (not all dragon's hands can be held. Same for humans.)

Dragons can be warriors of deep strength, amid onslaughts of deep despair.

An important part of working with them, for me, is a spirit sense of respect and regard. Same respect and regard with which you approach swimming in the ocean, which is a massive force. Yes, the destructive force of dragons can be enormous. This usually occurs only after eons of their deep and broad patience has finally worn too thin. Living amid destruction, of worlds, brought on by humans.

I must honor dragons, because they have reached deep, pulling me out of the places of body and spirit drowning, when the onslaughts of what humans can do to vulnerable ones, is the stuff of horrid nightmares.

I do deeply regard you and your strength of spirit. Light. Courage in acknowledging the dark spaces.

You are right. Living through the terribly dark spaces of dark choices, and finding ways to tell the tale, and breathe life into a life which could have ended ... is a space not given to all to experience.

I honor those who made it through.

I honor those who were not able to make it through this lifetime.

They will try again. Another time.

Thank you for your post.



C.M. Jackson said...

glad to hear you enjoyed and met the dragon--sorry to hear about the rat--that would get me pretty crazy--he's probably moved knowing he can't beat your super powers;-)

Reya Mellicker said...

Super powers, eh? ha!

Kim I love the drakes and honor them deeply. They are wild forces of nature that can never be tamed. I wouldn't dream of trying to hold the hand of these creatures. I have two special dragons who are allies of a sort - as close as you can get to making an ally of something that untameable.

But sometimes, I have to fight them. It's part of the relationship. May you rise up, sword in hand, and the fight the dragons who challenge you right now. May it be so.