by Brian McGovern
I heard this phrase a long time ago, and it stuck with me.
A while ago during one of my moments of introspection, I looked back on the times in my life when I was the most at peace, and times when I was getting along with my spouse and kids more often than not. And I came to the realization that I do much better when I have a “dragon to slay.”
Nope, not a large scaly fire-breathing lizard. And no, not a komodo dragon either. A dragon in this case is symbolic of a purpose, or a mission to be accomplished. It’s not something you do to merely pass the time, like scrolling through Facebook or playing video games. It’s what you find yourself doing in order to keep from feeling worthless.
During my twelve-year Army career, there was always something to be done, always a mission to accomplish. One day it was embedding with a group of Infantry guys and climbing a mountain in Afghanistan. Another day it was editing a video project. I never had to figure out what to do to keep my mind and body occupied.
Your dragon is probably different than mine. It might be working on cars or coaching a little league team or attending college classes. The point is, we all need a dragon to slay. Without it, we begin to lose that sense of purpose. And it’s got to be more than just a job. I mean, it could be your job, but there’s no guarantee that the thing you do all day to pay the bills is actually the thing that fulfills you. Your job may not actually be your dragon.
It didn’t necessarily feel like it at the time, but I was content with my dragons in the Army. I always had a purpose. I wasn’t changing the world, but I was needed. Now that I’m a civilian, I’ve finally realized that I need… a project, a thing. That’s what birthed CarrytheWounded.org. This blog is a direct outgrowth of my passion for helping my fellow Veterans and my need to have a some sort of project. I don’t need to be a hero, but I need to feel like I’ve done some good.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What’s your dragon?