Sunday, October 09, 2005

Once upon a time there was a knight...

It’s time for me to change directions. Over the past several days I have learned enough additional information about methamphetamines to confirm my suspicions that they are very dangerous and devastating drugs. What most concerns me is the report that Meth effects can last up to six months for just one use, and the drug can do greater damage to a person's physical, behavioral and thinking functions than most other illicit drugs or alcohol. But enough said about drugs—for now.

Throughout my life I have an advocate for various causes. Most have related to justice and peace issues. I suppose something about injustice and oppression triggers a link in my brain and I metaphorically don my suite of armor, mount my great war horse, and ride off seeking a dragon to slay. That same brain link seems to be triggered by the circumstances of many of the women in my life. That has been unfortunate for me, because I have paid dearly—financially and emotionally—for attempting to slay the dragons in those women’s lives.

A friend of mine—a therapist and one of my supervisors when I was a full-time social worker—recognized this dragon slaying component in me. Several years ago she told me this story:

Once upon a time there was a young knight who had just graduated from dragon-slaying school. One day he dressed himself in his suit of new, shining armor, strapped of his pristine, freshly sharpened sword, picked up his shield (with the emblem of a freshly killed dragon on it), and mounted his great war horse. Then he rode off seeking a dragon to slay.

As he crested a hill, he saw in the valley below a scantily clothed maiden chained to a huge boulder. Before her stood a great, fire breathing dragon.

“Ah!” said the knight to himself. “I shall fight this dragon, rescue this maiden, and receive my just recompense!”

The knight gallant dropped the visor of his helmet, pointed his lance toward the dragon, and spurred his great war horse is a charge directly at the dragon. The battle wasn’t really much of a battle, because this particular dragon had been consuming mead—an ancient alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey with water—most of the day and really wasn’t in fighting condition. A single blow from the knight’s lance and the dragon was down on his back.

The knight dismounted from his horse, laid down his shield, and drew his great two-handed sword. With one foot on the dragon’s neck and the sword raised above the knight’s head, he was just about to decapitate the mead-drunk dragon when something heavy came down on the back of his head.

Sprawled on the ground, the knight looked up to see the now unchained maiden standing above him with his own shield in her hands. The maiden smiled at the knight and then said to the dragon, “Look, Boopsy, if you can’t do any better than that, I’m going to have to get myself a fresh dragon.”

I think I understood the story when I first heard it. Yet, through the years I have never ceased taking on dragons. My imaginary armor is now dreadfully dented, my sword is chipped in many places, and my war horse has arthritis. But when that part of my brain is touched by circumstances, I still ride off to battle dragons in response to what I perceive as damsels in distress.

I have made one slight change in my campaigns: I no longer attempt to slay the dragon. Rather, I do my best to convert the dragon to a benign beast. But that’s another—and much longer—story.


  1. That's you all right, either trying to rescue damsels, or damsers, in distress, or tilting at windmills, whatever.

    Self-flagellation figures in there somewhere too.

  2. the girl he was saving hit him? why?

  3. Real Friend: How about a “Messiah complex” rather than “self flagellation”?

    Abby: Yes, she hit him with his own shield. As I understand the parable, the dragon is under her control and its purpose is to draw rescuers to her.

  4. That story touched me--right where it hurts. I have been rescuing damsels in destress all my life and never knew why it always went wrong until now. Thanks!

  5. Mike: I hope you did learn something from the story. I did, but them I keep forgetting it until I do it again.