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Kathy Bradley - Seeking dragons when we map out our lives
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    Ancient maps often labeled uncharted, unexplored regions with the simple phrase, “Where Dragons Lie.”
    Last night, needing to think, needing to mull over, chew on, process the events of the last few days, I sat on the deck and watched the light fade. The sun had vanished beneath the horizon and the sky was washed in the pale chic pastels of a Pottery Barn nursery. There was a breeze coming from the east and the wind catcher, a pendulum hanging from the center of the wind chimes, whirled like a dervish in a tight spiral. The high-pitched bell song echoed out into the branch, a small stone making ripples in a small pond.
    Where Dragons Lie.
    I had just watched, at the suggestion of a friend, a science fiction television show in which a planet was discovered on which life could be maintained only inside a dome. The air and water quality outside had been so contaminated by centuries of industrial growth that life could not be maintained there; the people living in the dome, however, were content. Outside the dome, the area beyond which their maps had been drawn, was of no consequence to them. But, unknown to them, the dome was shrinking.
    Where Dragons Lie.
    Out of the corner of my eye I could see a jagged streak of heat lightning, bright orange like a hazmat suit. A mockingbird glided through the carport and came to rest on the deck rail, stayed long enough to make sure that I knew he was ignoring me and flew away. I noticed that the lavender I had grown from seed was a little taller, that the zinnias were healthy, that one of the hummingbird feeders would need more food soon.
    The crickets and frogs began singing and I realized that I’d not done much thinking, mulling or chewing. Realized that as the day had wound down around me, gotten slower, gotten cooler, gotten quieter that so had my thoughts. And in the quietness I realized that the answer to my dilemma lay at the edges of the map.
    We are the cartographers of our own lives. We are handed a compass, a quill and a few sheets of parchment and told to, “Go.”
    For much of my life I carried mine around in a field jacket and spent my time navigating by the maps that other had made. I picked up those maps at school and at church, at Girl Scouts and summer camp. I tore them out of books and magazines. I picked up several pockets full from my family. And, for the most part, I had a pretty good time. I saw lots of tourist attractions, read lots of historical markers, had my picture made in front of a lot of monuments.
    But one day, while stuffing yet another ticket stub into my pocket, I found the compass. Lying in the palm of my hand, its needle quivered and so did my heart. With no hesitation, I threw away the others’ maps and set out.
    I could have stayed. I could have continued building my dome, making it self-sufficient, brain-washing myself into believing that the curve above my head was real sky, but eventually the dome would have started shrinking and so would I.
    Some people are born running toward the edge, ready to explore and excavate. Most of us aren’t. Most of us believe in dragons.
    I felt a bug bite of some kind and knew it was time to go inside. One more glance around the night landscape. One more deep breath of midsummer air. One more sigh of gratitude for the compass that pointed the way to where dragons lie.
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