Friday Fodder – Tenderness

Once upon a time…

It is a well-known fact that dragons are infamously cold, cruel, and evil. Since the Battle of Great Sorrow, their numbers have dwindled. One by one their hearts were walled off by solid granite. No happiness. No sadness. No feelings. No emotions.

As a red dragon, Tiamat was particularly intimidating. Piercing emerald eyes, with the power to paralyse at a glance, set high within her scaled, horny skull. Sharp teeth protruded from the sides of her mouth, hinting a glimpse of the terror inside. As haunting and majestic as she was, Tiamat did not know how to laugh. She had forgotten how to cry. Love was only a distant memory lost to time. Everyone knew there was no going back. Dragons were too far gone.

It was dusk and Tiamat was flying low over the forest trees, so close her wings skimmed their tips, when something shiny caught her eye. A small round object, greenish in colour wriggled around on the ground, partially hidden under a bush. She swooped in for a closer look.

Gingerly touching the curious object with one outstretched talon, Tiamat was taken aback when it wriggled. Never before had she encountered anything of this nature. She tapped it again and it rolled over, revealing a spot of pink on its green cacoon.

Lowering her head to get a closer look, Tiamat was shocked when it let out a strange warbling sound. Then two round eyes and a mouth appeared. They were shaped in a way that was completely foreign to the 900-year-old dragon. In all her days of treasure hunting, exploration, and discovery, she had never come across anything quite like it. The object wiggled again, warbled, and then shrilled. It seemed to be a young creature, possibly no older than a year or so. Still, Tiamat had no clue as to what to make of it.

Stepping back, Tiamat scanned the surrounding area and spotted a familiar symbol scratched into a nearby tree. It was the mark of Scarn’s hunting grounds. There were fresh furrows through the surrounding soil. The creature was young and its caretakers must have been killed by Scarn. Tiamat deduced that he must have missed the little object somewhat hidden under the bush.

Again, the little thing warbled, and then it inexplicably burst into howling tears. For some unknown reason, Tiamat picked up the little green cocoon-like object and cradled it in her claws. It immediately ceased its tantrum and went silent in calm wonder. Without a second thought, Tiamat lifted off towards the cave high in the mountains.

In the cave, Tiamat set the little thing down to roam and explore but it did not move. It wiggled a bit, but never actually went anywhere. Was it hurt? Sick? Or was it just immobile? That was when Tiamat realised that the green skin was not even a part of the creature. As the cocoon began to unravel in her claws, the little thing started to roll away. Quietly mortified that it was falling apart in her hands, Tiamat realised the thing was all the while giggling and laughing. Then it began making hungry sounds and signs. With a sigh, Tiamat tramped over to an alcove of stored food and returned with various items. She presented each to the thing, but it turned them all down with a haughty look or by shoving them away. So, she returned with a new assortment of food – plants, fruit, and even meat – and again each was a definite no. Finally, on the third run, one of the fruits caught its eye. A small mango, bright yellow and orange.

Fascinated, it reached for the fruit with little arms, talonless claws grasping and grabbing. Tiamat watched the creature roll the fruit around the floor, giggling.

“Mango,” she explained in the dragon-tongue.

“Momo,” it replied with a huge grin.

Startled, Tiamat said it again and the creature responded the same. She sliced the mango into smaller pieces with a claw in hopes of allowing the creature to eat it. All the while it repeated, “momo, momo, momo.”

When finally the creature settled down to the mango, Tiamat said “Mo,” and it suddenly looked up. Well, thought Tiamat, she couldn’t keep calling it ‘creature’ so, from now on it would be known as Mo – a small name for a small thing.

From that point on, life was anything but easy. Little Mo was a demolition squad in and of herself. Nothing was ever Mo-proof and she always found a way of getting into places she didn’t belong. She was adventurous, sneaky, and daring. A delightful addition to the mountain cave. And so it was: the first smile in thousands of years began with Mo and the mango. Ever since then, smiling became a normal occurrence, growing more and more frequent as time went on. Laughing, though, took a little bit longer.

One day, on the return from a hunt, Tiamat arrived home at the mouth of the cave. As soon as her claws touched the pebbled ground, Mo came barreling out of the back cave to greet her with something in her arms. Alas, on only two tiny chubby legs, she tripped over herself and gravity took over. As Mo fell to the ground, the object in her hands launched into the air, almost seeming to defy the laws of nature. Time slowed. A bowl of paint (freshly made from the looks of her hands) comically splattered all over the cave with the bowl landing directly on her head. Tiamat braced herself for a howling scream, but it did not come.

Covered in blue with the bowl over her eyes, little Mo started to giggle uncontrollably. As Mo burst into peals of laughter, Tiamat felt a chuckle well up inside of her. It first came out as an odd snort, her very first ever! Then together Mo and Tiamat collapsed on the floor, belly-laughing so hard that tears of joy rolled down their faces. At that moment, Tiamat realised there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter.

From that day forward, everything changed. The dragons of this realm began to make a comeback – not only in numbers but most importantly, in spirit. They were not too far gone after all. They realised that at the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. And so, they began to reclaim laughter as an alchemical key to heal ancestral wounds, strengthen alliances, and ultimately dissolve the granite so they could open their hearts and truly connect with each other once again.

Still to this day, dragons find every reason to laugh. The trick is to discern if they are laughing with you or at you because, after all, you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

“If you are happy and people around you are not happy, they will not allow you to stay happy. Therefore, much of our happiness depends upon our ability to spread happiness around us.”

– Dr. Madan Kataria

Moral of the Story:

Life teaches us to become rough and hard, de-sensitised to who we are and our natural way of being which is actually tender, delicate and gentle. If you shut down your heart because of past wounding, life becomes a painful ordeal. Even if you hold a grudge against just one person, anytime you think of them or recall the time you were hurt, you will suffer. Since you have no control over when these thoughts will pop into your mind, you will always be susceptible to sudden pain. And if you resent many people, whole groups of people, or humanity at large, you will be that much more susceptible. There is no peace in this kind of existence, no matter how good your life may look to others from the outside. The way to live with joy in a painful world is not by shutting down or closing off, it is quite the opposite.

When we are in the presence of an infant, we are naturally gentle and tender – perhaps even a little clumsy or tentative through lack of practice. In this way, any harshness stands out like a sore thumb. When it is warm with tenderness and affection toward others, our hearts can give us pure and profound happiness to radiate out to others. By reintroducing the quality of tenderness to our body, we can begin to be aware of where we have become hard and rough with ourselves and with others. As we develop and understand what tenderness feels like, anything that is not gentle really stands out. This enables us to easily see and feel what is loving and tender and what is not. From there we have the ability to say no to what disrupts or contradicts the feeling of tenderness we know and feel in our bodies. Being tender is the first important step that takes us from a way of life that has conditioned us to be hard and shut off from our hearts to reconnecting us back to the tenderness of who we truly are.

“Men are always ready to fight; it’s tenderness that scares them.”

― Marty Rubin

Affirmation: I listen with love to my body’s messages.

I patiently communicate with gentle awareness. I create space to heal my broken heart and let go of the past. I have opened my heart to love again. I easily express my feelings and I radiate self-respect. I am healing from all the losses, heartbreaks, and disappointments. All is well in my world. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe! There is power and strength in my tenderness. I am in the process of positive change. I am comfortable looking in the mirror, saying, “I love you, I really love you.” It is safe to look within. I forgive myself and set myself free. As I say yes to life, life says yes to me. I now go beyond other people’s fears and limitations. As I forgive myself, it becomes easier to forgive others. I am willing to let go. Deep at the centre of my being is an infinite well of love. I trust the process of life. Life supports me in every possible way.

“The past twenty years was all about “being fierce”. I think we’re tired of that now. I think women everywhere are asking why we have to grow claws to share this planet. Why do we have to grow fangs to stay here? We’re tired of the fierceness, the viciousness. We want to get back in touch with our tenderness, we want comfort, we want to embrace and to be embraced.”

― C. JoyBell C.

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