December 08, 2004


Onward and upward

Hi, my name is Baxil, and I have a confession to make.

Once upon a time, I wrote the Draconity FAQ --

-- No, no, no. That's not the confession, friend. That's just the background. I can't make assumptions about my readership; I want to set the record straight before I lay things on the line.

So. Once upon a time, I wrote what may even today still be considered the definitive basic primer for people who think they're dragons in human bodies. I spoke from experience. I was social in the online dragon community and went to a few regional "dragon gathers". I harbored dreams of a changed world.

It's been about nine years now. You know how the passage of time works. I haven't updated the FAQ since 1998; my interactions in the dragon community have gradually slowed down to occasional contact with a close group of friends from the old days. I grew, broadened; saw different sides of the human world I had a hard time considering myself a part of. Had a few big traumas in my spirit world and a few pleasant discoveries outside of it. Met a nice human girl and got completely broadsided by what quickly blossomed into a relationship.

Those days when I felt I had the universe figured out -- those days of heady certainty -- seem so far away now. I've graduated from college and moved out into the Real World; I've grappled with jobs and debt and tangled webs of roommates and relationships. I've gotten politically active and marched in protest rallies and donated good money to parties and issue groups (what can I say, blame Bush). I've met a lot of people who shared my intellectual gifts and my alienation, who never considered themselves anything but human and never struck me as anything but human, and who nevertheless got along just fine.

And then -- don't worry, reader, the confession is coming soon -- last night, someone pointed me at a piece in Teresa Neilsen Hayden's blog discussing a rather earnest born-again dragon. And I read that, and the scores of comments, many of whom made some rather cogent points about people who think they're not human ...

I read that with a sort of odd feeling brewing in my stomach. So I sat down, and listened, and gnawed on it as I went to sleep, and gnawed on it some more as I drove to work.

I think that's enough background. You probably see where I'm headed with this, anyway. My confession is --

I'm still a dragon, dammit.

Those of you who up until now were reading this with a growing sense of relief or smugness, and are now merely exasperated at me for wasting your time, are kindly advised to close your browser and go perform an anatomically impossible one-person sex act. I'll keep talking to the rest of the audience.

That odd feeling? A sense of conviction. Not in the sense of certainty. In the sense of being called out, convicted, by something greater than yourself; being shown a sign that you're not living up to your expectations. (I picked up the term from a book on Christianity my sister gave me as a gift, Blue Like Jazz, which has been a useful read on issues of faith even if I'm not taking away quite the connection to God that the author intends.)

Like I said, I've been gradually drifting away from the community. This isn't wrong; I got what I needed out of it while I was involved, and it was a great place at the time, but I'm beyond the phase where my desire for draconity determined my inner circle. Those dragon friends I keep today are increasingly those I like as people, and that's as should be.

I've also been backing away from writing about draconity -- although that decline has been more sporadic and slow. I've been feeling like I have less that I can say authoritatively as I've broadened out and gained a more worldly and nuanced perspective.

My draconity, too, has changed. Except it hasn't. Except it has. It's still the foundation on which my path is laid, and it still follows some of the same rules that seemed so familiar back then -- but at times I look around and don't recognize a thing. It's simultaneously critical and comfortable and alien and meaningless. Map and territory. Further explanation will be necessary later.

What's important is that the bottom has been dropping out of all of my reasons for believing. There are graceful intellectual and social outs; I have a peer group which would totally understand (and in many cases give me even more respect for) a reasoned decision to back away; my declining spiritual commitments would be easy enough to shut down. A dozen non-draconic interests continually compete for my attention and I could pick any of them up without looking back. The benefits of continuing to believe have gotten progressively more ineffable. The actual connection to my past and my identity grows ever more irrelevant as my focus turns to the remainder of this well-lived life. I'm growing more comfortable in my skin. I have a full life without it. And yet ... and yet.

I can't. It wouldn't be right. After the times I've walked away, it's still there. Now more than ever, since it has no reason to be but still is.

So I feel convicted about my draconity. About not knowing what to say about it. (I almost said "what to do with it," but it doesn't need doing; it's there, it's me.) There's all this wonderful discussion going on about draconity (inside the community as well as outside -- Hayden's blog was merely the spark for the epiphany), and here I am shrinking into a corner, letting people assume that the me of six years ago speaks for the me of today, not bothering to tell anyone where I actually stand and what I've seen since then and what implications this all has.

"I'm still a dragon, dammit" is a good start. But it's only a good start. It's the truth, but not the whole truth, so help me Thideras. There's so much more to say.

Trying to clear the rest out of my head may be a sporadic process, but with a NaNoWriMo novel under my belt, I have a lot more confidence that I can quietly and patiently work toward a longer-term goal like this one.

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