The air is perfect tonight. It is late September and a little bit of warm air has returned to let us know that mother nature is not quite ready to yet give up the summer. The autumn equinox may have passed, but summer has an encore! Tomorrow is forecasted a warm 84 degrees and I plan to warm my skin in it's beam. But for tonight... it is a perfectly wonderful landscape to walk with my dog in the glow of the lights of the night, wearing running shoes, cut-off jeans, a simple t-shirt, and my favorite black jacket.
The sign near the water of the pond reads, "No swimming, boating, rafting, or skating." It is cleverly disguised to look like a classic wooden post and planks, but it is a pre-fab steel replica of what was once substance. It lacks the pull and ware that accompanies true world time and space. Ironically, it presents as artificial nostalgia, poorly cloaked in this modern world mimicry of things that once held value.
Conversely, the night sounds are abundant and unmistakably refreshing. Crickets are the big deal, their sounds reminding me of my childhood reading of A Cricket in Times Square, and a fascination of that micro-universe within that self-inflated city. I was so captivated by that book. One little cricket in the glare and movement of that giant city! We all possess so much magic... the stuff of potential that outshines the challenges of living. There are things in this life that yet remind me of that.
I look at my ten year old daughter. She has not yet abandoned the magic. She fears bees and wrestles with the conundrum of whether wolves or dragons are the coolest of creatures. Today she and I agreed that a wolf-dragon would be the ultimate of creatures. I mean, why not? The Never Ending Story had a "Luck Dragon" that was a combination of a dog and a dragon. Surely a combination of a wolf and a dragon would be an upgrade.
Michael Ende, what do you say? I'm thinking that Sterling is onto something and you and my daughter could collaborate to add to your "Luck Dragon" concept to create the "Wolf Dragon." It would be the natural progression of the story. Wolves are instinctually pack animals. They are intuitive, typically not aggressive, intelligent, and get unreasonable negative press sometimes. This girl of mine... she causes me, a Shepherd, to romanticize the wolf.
I bought her dragon earrings today. They were the pure dragon, non wolf type. They looked amazing with her dark hair. The smile on her face was confirmation of their absolute perfection. We had looked at them earlier online, combing through thousands of designs. The earrings that seized her attention and animated her choice, were remarkably similar to the tattoo of a dragon on my left shoulder, that is the tattoo that symbolizes her. My Chinese little fierce fire-breather.
I had that tattoo made while we were awaiting her adoption. China had just shut down adoptions to the U.S. We had the choice of switching to another country, or waiting on the chance that adoptions might re-open. I doubled down with a permanent skin commitment, and after six years, Sterling came home.
In this world of fear, of rules, of masks that cover our faces... tonight was a simple walk under the stars with my dog by my side. I pull the air into my lungs and I taste the night. It tastes exactly like the nights of my childhood in Preble County, Ohio. It tastes like that night in Guanghzou when I spun in the moonlight over the Yellow River, holding my little daughter in my arms on a midnight cruise.
There is magic yet to be held in this world. You don't need a Luck Dragon or even a Wolf Dragon. I pull this night air deeply into my lungs. I pause to really listen to the sound of the simple cricket. I stop to open the eyes of my heart and look at the people who matter to me most. I take this moment to think of the best memories of my life and pull from those snap-shots the bits of wonder that made me. And now I make this declaration, this is who you I am created to be.
Created with a unique purpose for this time. All my fears, my risks, experiences, hopes and dreams... oh how remarkable it is when I consider that no-one else on this planet is quite the equation of me, of Sterling. So don't yet go softly into this night.... open your eyes to the dragons and wolves and ten year old visions of this world.
There is beauty and adventure and even meaning and peace yet here to be found. It is time to swim, to raft, to boat, and to skate. The sign is nothing more than a distraction.