In early August, Dragons Admin will be workshopping the vision for our organizational role in the world moving into 2018. The mission statement that we create will flavor every avenue of our work, from marketing to alumni relationships. It feels imperative to first invite into the room the voices of our alumni participants and staff. And because we think Dragons mission should be poetic, creative, bold and beautiful, we are inviting contributions to our missi0n-building workshop in all forms. We will gratefully receive a haiku, a dissertation, lyrics, a mission statement, a poem, a paragraph, a first draft essay, or even just a sentence on what the spirit/mission/heart of Dragons is to you. The below essay was a contribution to this project from Micah LeMasters. Micah worked with the prompt: “I have found the soul/heart of Dragons in…” If YOU would like to contribute to this project, please send your submissions to: [email protected] by August 5th, 2017.
I found the heart of Dragons along a dust-red road that wound its way out of town toward a thatched, mudbrick hut. An old woman was holding it in her broken smile. She invited me into her home to share the two sweet potatoes she had traded her rice for.
I found the heart of Dragons in the emerald green rice paddies where women spend their lives, doubled over at the waist, slowly pulling from the earth and giving to the earth and raising from the earth and taking from the earth and then returning to the earth. I found the Heart of Dragons, not in the mudbrick homes that rise, for a few years, from the red earth, but in the ancient tombs, hewn from the blue granite mountains, where our ancestor’s bones slowly turn to sapphire and gold.
I have heard the heart of Dragons in the clink of a cheap spoon chasing the last grains of rice to the edge of a metal plate. I have heard the rhythm and beat of Dragons heart in the scuff of an old man’s feet as he hauled his rickshaw up a hill on a misty morning in Madagascar. I have heard the beat and rhythm of Dragons heart in the song of the sandal repairman as he made his rounds through an old Javanese city. I hear it in the slow clacking and swaying of Indian trains as I drift off to sleep a world away. I hear it in the cough of worn out engines and the way a grass broom sounds as it scratches the sunbaked earth. I hear it in the heavily greased axels of ox-carts and the way a truly foreign language sounds like every poem and every song ever written.
I have seen the heart of Dragons in the smile of an awe-struck child. I have seen the heart of Dragons in my students as they sit, tears streaming down their faces, unable to comprehend the complexity of life and sorrow and joy. I have seen the heart of Dragons, not in the marbled and gilded halls of the world’s palaces, but around the humble wooden tables, lit by candles, in the far-flung corners of the earth.
I found the heart of Dragons along a dust-red road that wound its way out of town toward a thatched, mudbrick hut. An old woman was holding it in her broken smile.
I have seen the heart of Dragons break a million times. I have seen it ache and anger. I have seen it fully comprehend sorrow and pain. I have seen it sit with those things and tremble with emptiness, waiting to be filled. I have seen it put back together. I have seen it heal. I have seen it overflow with joy and wonder and ecstasy. I have seen it skip a beat—and then another! —at the sheer wonder and beauty of everything.
…And so we set off, searching for the heart of Dragons down this dust-red road that continues to wind its way into the distant hills. I’ve heard an old man is holding it there and that he keeps it wrapped in his shawl and held close to his own. They say he is waiting there for us, keeping it warm and safe and when we find him he will look at us, with wisdom, acceptance and love in his eyes, and quietly say: “come, sit, share this tea with me”