A few Saturdays ago, I was sorting through a box of greeting cards when I came across a Bon Voyage note given to me by my two best friends a few days before I hopped a jet plane for Bangladesh. Inside, beside the typed hallmark message, was a hand written note and two signatures. ‘I hope you find your dragons’ it said. In the back of my head I had only an inkling of remembrance. Dragons. Why were we talking about dragons? I searched the encyclopedia of my life, otherwise known as my gmail inbox, and found what I was looking for. A list of quotes I considered adding to our new address/just-moved-to-the-other-side-of-the-globe card. On the list, among the profound and the spiritual was this quote:
“Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” Sarah Ban Breathnach.
So of course the question I’ve been asking myself is this: Did I find my dragons? While I did have a couple of close encounters with lizards, I don’t think that’s what my past self meant when she said she was looking for dragons. A dragon is a story to tell, something confronted, overcome, or experienced for the first time. It’s a quest of self discovery. It might seem scary or insurmountable if you look at it from afar, but once you’re there, it’s a grand adventure.
I’m proud to say I found many dragons during my year in Bangladesh, and each taught me a lesson. All the good dragons do. I came back more confident in myself; more sure of who I am as a person, more aware of my flaws and my strengths. I am more unapologetically me than I have been at any other point in my life. And that feels awesome.
Maybe it was the quiet or the new environment. Maybe it was the writing. I can’t identify the how or the why, which is a little bothersome. I would like to be able to map the changes, to see the shift on paper. Where did it occur, when did it start, what was the trigger? The daughter of a scientist, I like things to fit into boxes and graphs. I want to look back and point to a moment so I can say, ‘See that day, that’s when it began to change.’ Everything would feel more real if I could break it down into cause and effect.
But I can’t. I know how I was before Bangladesh. I know how I was in Bangladesh. And I know how I am now, after Bangladesh, but how one affected the next I have no hypothesis.
All I know is that I most certainly found Dragons.