Monday, July 21, 2008

Slaying a Dragon

About 6 years ago, Daniel Cormode and I went swimming in the sea at the Passetto here in Ancona. After treading water for a bit, he and I decided to swim out to the scoglio or the rock reef that blocks the waves from eroding the little stony beach nearby. Well, we got 50 metres out and I quickly realized that I wasn't a very fit swimmer and we still had a ways to go. Now, before you call me a wimp, you need to know that it is pretty choppy and that there can be some pretty big swells. I called out to Dan and told him I didn't think I could make it and he quickly swam to my side and helped me get to shore. I may have been able to make it on my own, but Dan pretty much saved my life that day.

We jump in at the bottom and swim to the far right bottom corner over
100 metres to the rocks (not in picture). Mussolini had the monument at the top
commissioned in honor of fallen soldiers in WWI.
The stairs are designed to look like an eagle.

6 years have gone by and every time I go down to the Passetto and I spy those rocks I remember that and it brings back memories of jogging the 199 steps and the early days of exploring our city. I always wondered if I'd be able to make it out there to the rocks someday, if I'd be able to slay that dragon, to face the fear and do it.

The Germans have a saying, "Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is." It is true. Maybe this is the sole reason I have been brought here, the lesson I am to learn and yet which I resist the most; resist because of the very response, the exacting effect which courses through my veins, the way in which it seizes my heart. Maybe I have been brought here to face and embrace the wolf. As they say, 'Crepi.'

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
-Frank Herbert, Dune

Well, last year, I started jogging 2-3 times a week with Brian and we've kept at it now for nearly a year. A couple of weeks ago we started substituting jogging for swimming/treading - why not, right? It is so nice, we dive off a rock into the deep, cool water and tread and talk and try to get in shape.

Today, there were five of us. Brian and I were joined by Josh, Marcus and Kyle (our newest intern). We had been out for about half an hour and I realized that I was about half way out to the rocks. I looked at the guys and said, 'Boys, I think this is the day!' and started out toward the reef. I made it with no problem and climbed up on top to signal the victory. They swam out to meet me and we had a blast diving off the rocks and acting like teenagers. As Marcus, Brian and I took our last jump in together, the rain and sleet (yes, sleet) came down and we swam back in to shore, laughing and enjoying the cool weather. The people on the shore watched us as if we were illegal immigrants arriving clandestine from the East.

It felt good. It wasn't that I was that afraid to try it again, it was mainly that I didn't want to do it alone. The good feeling was the not being alone. It was trusting them to help me if I needed it. It was that they knew my story, my fear, my dream and my vision. It was their cheering me on and celebrating the little victory together. It was the weaving of our stories together that made it so memorable. We walked triumphantly to our rain-drenched towels and shirts and the slain dragon sunk beneath the crashing waves.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my sweet boy, you've encouraged me to try to overcome some "dragons" in my own life. Thank you for sharing your heart with us! Momma

Shauna Peterson said...

Wow, that's sounds awesome. You are a great writer...I'll be subscribing to your blog from now on!

Great quote from Dune, too! I'm such a geek, but I love that story.

Joshua said...

What a great picture of "team" you leave with us! That's what it's all about...togetherness! Thanks for sharing.
Love you guys.