Slaying Dragons

15 Apr

We all have dragons to slay. More often than not, they are internal rather than external. We struggle between light and dark impulses, and between believing in magic or rejecting it. I was thinking about this the other day when my colleague persuaded me to accept the “Dragon Challenge” at the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”

You may be asking, what type of work do you do that you would wind up at a theme park? Actually, my work has nothing to do with Universal Studios or amusement parks. I lecture on mental health issues around the country. But we were in Orlando, home of Mickey Mouse, etc., so when in Rome….

I hadn’t been to an amusement park in 20+ years. Yikes! Is that possible? I don’t have kids and I’m not super fond of crowds, so it had been awhile since I’d been on a roller coaster.

For the record, I used to LOVE roller coasters. I was a dare devil and wanted everything to be faster and scarier. I’m not certain where that girl went. I now like to play my life relatively safe. Roller coasters can kill you.

As I walked around the park, I thought about JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. The woman has to be a billionaire with the revenue from her books, movies, the theme park, and related toys. I also recalled that Rowling was slaying her own dragons when she embarked on her adventure. She wrote that first draft with a newborn baby at her side, while on welfare, and as a new divorcee.

We got in line for the ride. As the harness was pressed down over me by the attendant, I had to make double sure I was locked in. Then we were off.

We must have been on the ride for a total of two minutes. I bullshit you not, roller coasters have changed in the last 20+ years. To enjoy them, you just have to say yourself, “Okay. I could seriously die on this thing. Whatever.” If you don’t believe me, just watch.

The Dragon Challenge scared the hell out of me and made me semi-sick afterwards. However, the ride was extraordinary and exhilarating.

Is that not life? And is it not our friends who carry us through it all?

Who or what are these dragons we’re slaying? Is it possible that the most dangerous eragons and dementors are ourselves? Are these the hardest spells to cast out? I don’t know, but as I screamed and clung to the handle bars of my seat, I know I released something. Doubt and shame and a sense of failure flew from my lungs.

I got off the ride and felt my legs on solid ground. I survived. I went through the ups and downs and did not die. It actually crossed my mind to get in line and go again. After all, it was pretty fun.

Thankfully, I didn’t. As humidity and whatever I put my body through caught up with me, I realized I needed to rest. I felt faint and mildly nauseous. I had to sit down on the floor in the candy store until the feeling passed, but then the sensation did.

Next up, we went to Jurrasic Park. There we had dinosaurs roar at us and threaten our lives.


We will always have dragons to slay. They are everywhere. But with courage, we can slay them. Sometimes there is no happy ending. Yet with the help of our fellow wizard comrades, we can embrace the journey and emerge valiant in our efforts – even if we have taken a tumble.




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