The Dragon and the Phoenix

It’s been a crazy two weeks. I’m going for a swim.

I walk to the edge of campus, near the forest that borders it, and set my things down on the grass before standing atop the three steps that lead down into the natural spring pool. I’ve never been here before so I approach gingerly, awaiting the chill of a cool mountain spring.

Step one. Breathe, it’s going to be okay. Step two is easier, albeit still a little tentative. Step three is accompanied by a nearby splash that forces a wake that chills me as the water laps up onto my feet.

“Come on in, silly,” Teacher says. “The water’s fine.”

I usually don’t do this, but I’m inspired to take a leap. The water isn’t cold. I explore the depths of this natural pond, feeling a golden warmth envelop me, tingling at the top of my head. I swim deeper and, surprisingly, don’t run out of air. I open my eyes and find that the water, unlike seawater, doesn’t sting. It’s also almost as clear as day.

Chasing a school of goldfish, I swim deeper in this seemingly bottomless pond. Two of the goldfish break from the school and swim around me.  I tread water to watch them perform a beautiful ballet as they swim around each other. Round and round. The dance becomes a sort of whirling dervish kind of dance, then the goldfish aren’t fish at all. Suddenly, one has transformed into a blue miniature dragon, the second looks like a red phoenix.

Their small dance floor seems to be getting smaller, and they shoot up to the surface. I follow.

Gasping for the air I hadn’t needed moments before, I watch as the two creatures expand until the dragon is the size of a small elephant and the phoenix is as big as an eagle.

I am mesmerized by this vision as the two creatures fly around each other until their colors are a blur and the blur becomes something familiar that I can’t identify. Then they disappear into the form of my teacher’s blue and purple dragonfly.

A long moment later, the shock wears off, but the tingling warmth at the top of my head continues. Thinking it’s an infection, I scratch.

“You are not coming down with anything, Writer.” Teacher says in the heavily accented English of an elderly Chinese man. He is still Teacher, but he is older and dressed in a silk robe covered with images of blue phoenix feathers. A purple Chinese skull cap completes Teacher’s costume. “You have indeed triggered something.”

“What, and why the Chinese dude?”

“That’s my question. What did you see?”

“Well, I saw two goldfish turn into a dragon and a phoenix then fly around each other until …” I try to put a name to what I saw, but it’s hard. “They were flying so fast that I lost sight of which was which. It just became, I don’t know, something I recognized but then I didn’t, then it became one blob of color, and then it became you.”

He nods. “You recognized something before it became me?”

“Yeah.” I think about it. The blue dragon and the red phoenix, two opposite creatures. They chased each other head-to-tail until it looked like they were one ball. One purple ball.

I glance toward the Chinese version of Teacher, then the lightbulb clicks.

Dragon and Phoenix Yin Yang

“A yin-yang. Red and blue make purple. Were you both of them? Were you the dragon and the phoenix?”

“There are so many aspects to us, don’t you think?” he says, then he smiles. “Can you imagine the power we possess once we learn to accept both?”

And again, the lesson boils down to a self-reflection. May we all learn to love and accept ourselves as much.

Namaste, my friends,

The Dragonfly’s Student



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