I love dragons. I think they’re my favorite mythical creature. There was a point in time where I would not read a book if it didn’t have a dragon.
When I think of dragons, I think of majestic, noble creatures. They’re wise and maybe a bit frosty. But their elegance when they take to the skies is unrivaled. I bet they’re even more beautiful than Pegasus.
As a child, I thought all dragons looked the same. I didn’t know there was a difference between Western dragons and Chinese Dragons. When I found out, it boggled my mind a bit and made me reflect on all the dragons I had read about, who, it turned out, looked very different from the dragons I had imagined.
I grew up in a solidly Chinese American household. I was raised with a Chinese American mom, who had a very traditionally Chinese mother, and a Chinese born and raised father. Dragons and phoenixes ruled my life. They were in the golden designs decorating the walls and pillows. Golden figures of them were entwined on restaurant walls in LA’s Chinatown. They were painted everywhere there. I was surrounded by graceful birds with elegant heads and brilliant plumage and serpentine dragons whose bodies twisted this way and that in the air with stubby, yet elegant limbs ending in claws.
They were the beautiful creatures of my childhood. Their images have been seared into my head. The noble dragons symbolizing masculinity and the fierce, elegant phoenixes symbolizing femininity.
Those are the dragons I always pictured when I read them in book.
One day, I looked up the word “dragon” in the dictionary. There was a picture. But I was confused. It didn’t look like the dragons I knew. It wasn’t long, serpentine, and noble. It looked like a terrifying dinosaur preparing to stomp on me. Western cultures pictured dragons as fire breathing dinosaurs who struck terror in people’s hearts? I was a little heartbroken and sad. I grew up with such beautiful dragons that it was hard to reconcile them with the hideous beasts I had been reading about. No wonder many of them lacked the nobility I knew.
Needless to say, I stopped reading books with dragons for awhile. My dragon phase was officially over, but my love for my Chinese dragons was growing.
Today, as a writer, I almost always include dragons when I write about mythical creatures. But I’m clear in describing them as long and serpentine who don’t always breathe fire. My Eastern dragons are my inspiration. I love them so much, and I want so much to share my love of them.
Today unicorns are all the rage. But I’ll forever be a dragon lady.