Here Be Dragons

stamp.php“Here Be Dragons”, the cartographer warns. Back in the day, dragons stood at the edge of the maps to signify the unknown. This addition was the map maker’s way of saying, we don’t know what’s out there. It was a warning: proceed at your own peril.

Except that much of this is false. There were mystical sea creatures drawn on maps, but of all the old maps we have access to, none of them say, “Here Be Dragons.” There is a globe, which makes this warning in Latin. Except it may not even be a warning. It could be the explorer found some creature formidable and strange enough to earn the moniker “dragon.” Other maps of the time noted where different creatures could be found. One map points out where elephants, scorpions and ‘dog-headed beings’ come from. On others one could find walruses, lions, and hippos. Dragons are not as prevalent as our imagination would tell us.

This is what I am discovering in my practice of going outside my comfort zone. Mostly, I’m finding elephants and hippos. Creatures that aren’t terribly interested in eating people or burning them alive. I have found one dragon. One thing that is still squarely outside my comfort zone. But I’ve met it, introduced myself, spent some time in its company. So next time I visit, I can say, “Oh, hello Alice. Good to see you again.” Though I may never be fully at ease in her company, I can get to know her, perhaps even befriend her.

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