Here Be Dragons

I love, love, love my California adventure getaway weekends during the winter! While the snow falls yet again in Colorado, I’m in the warm green riot that is California springtime. This day I’d even have the pleasure of riding with my friend and mentor from coaching classes.

We planned to catch the last gas station on the way out of town, and pick up a picnic lunch while we’re there. I know the first part of the route, so I took off in the lead. On the fuzzy map in my head, we still have to go through a corner of the city. But according to the roads on the ground, we’re outta there and I’ve missed the last gas station.

Fortunately, up at Pine Flat marina, this topic comes up fairly often. Hence the I Forgot Gas Station.

I forgot Gas station

It’s springtime in California. Everything is greening. God played Jackson Pollock with the poppies on the hillsides.

Tree with poppies
Tree with hillside poppies

After kickin our wheels up twisting around the lake, we headed up along the river.

River by hillside

We rode in a ways and stopped for a picnic at the campsite. Once we stopped, I could smell the sweetness of the river. The I Forgot Gas Station didn’t have much in the way of food, but a refrigerated sandwich and a chocolate bar tasted mighty fine amidst all this luscious greenery.

Motorcycle at picnic spot
Redbud tree

After lunch we crossed the river and went roughly… UP.

More beautiful springtime and I couldn’t help but stop to take a picture.

Motorcycle handlebar with distant cliffs

About 60 miles in, an enormous pipeline cascaded down one side of the valley and back up the other. My riding buddy paused just before the roadway carved into the hillside ducked under it. I pulled up next to him and lifted my visor to see what’s up.

<<missing image>>

(web image since I didn’t take one)

He nodded to the archway made by the pipe. “Are you sure you want to go through? Beyond here, there be dragons.”

I looked at the portal and thought how lucky I am to have a guide who knows the local roads so intimately. Dragons represent a particularly fierce wisdom to me. An entirely impersonal wisdom that rises in destruction of all that is false.

I had a dream a decade ago in which I could shapeshift to a red dragon. To the villagers, a girl disappeared and a dragon started living on the mountain. They assumed the dragon needed sacrifices so it wouldn’t eat the other villagers. I got so pissed about villages thinking they could appease randomness by sacrificing innocent girls. I flew the yearly girl-offerings to a far land where people respected the feminine. And I flamed the fools who thought sacrificing another would protect themselves, with their mask of righteousness in saving their own possessions. Century after century this went on until finally one of the knights thought to talk to the dragon rather than mount yet another hopeless attack. It takes a lot of courage to stop and talk to a dragon. To look wisdom in the eye with a fierce heart.

A couple years ago during my spiritual awakening, my attention opened as vast spaciousness, capacity for universes. Suddenly, all the anger and rage that ever existed in humanity churned beneath me. It felt like the roiling of a dragon demon. No content to it. Nothing to do with me or my life. Just enormous fury and desire for destruction. I was blessed by my guide to talk me through it then, too. Someone who knew the territory and what was beyond. He coached me as the shadow flamed through my body and roared through my teeth. Nothing held back. No safe mask of “nice.” Visceral, violent, and vibrantly energetic. Up. Fill. Open. Through. Burning away assumptions and masks. I danced the dragon. The scales left my throat raw.

Since then, shadow holds no fear for me. Capacity is endless. Knowing those two things, Joy says “bring it on!”

Now my guide plays with the challenge of dragons, and the twists and turns beckon. I grin into his face. “Hell yeah!” Dragons, like shadows, are for facing into. Down clicks the visor and off we go.

As we went on, the patchwork road frayed more than Grandma’s quilt.

Patchwork road

Up we went, back into canyons far beyond any traffic. The springtime greens and flowers rejoicing against the uncompromising rock face. Indeed, dragons would be at home in a landscape such as this.

Motorcycle rider looking back
Lupine flowers against cliffs

The enormous rock face went straight up… and straight down. Boulders crowded the one lane road and I was glad few cars came this far.

Small motorcycle on large cliff

Every turn brought a new vista, a new feast for the eyes. And every turn brought the need for total concentration on the radius, the pavement, the possibility of fallen rocks. Speed. Lean. Presence.

Enter the Dragon

The dragon here is fear. A moment of target fixation on a boulder or a rail-less cliff takes the you precisely there – where you DON’T want to go. It’s the same as watching for the worst in a relationship or anticipating a downturn in business.

The ways of the human mind are as ancient as neurology itself. No need to venture to far lands seeking dragons. The most majestic reside in our own nature. Here. Now. In absolute presence. The patterns of emotion splash across the archetypal landscape bringing glory and depth to our days. The waves and weather have their own movement, far beyond our choice and control.  Life’s all about how we ride them when the dragon surfaces!

Road on edge of cliff

Sometimes that fear shows up as withdrawing and not pushing the bike hard enough. Sometimes it cloaks itself as cocky arrogance and a “prove it” mentality of showing off.

The truth is, keeping attention on the road as it is, undistracted by imagined situations and undistracted by the scenery, makes for a ride with plenty of room for safety and exhilaration. There’s always time to stop to enjoy the landscape (and stretch a bit)!

Motorcycle overlooking cliffs

Where does the dragon show up in your life?

How do you know when your dragon rears its head?

What tools do you have to ride your dragon rather than attempt to slay it or change it into some domesticated worm?

Rider going around curve

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