I’m not an avid believer in organized religion. Actually, let me rephrase that, I’m not a believer in organized religion at the moment. Anything is possible, I suppose. However, I do have a deep appreciation for the lore and legend that is carried by theology.
The tale of St. George and the Dragon is one of those legends. It takes place in Libya. The dragon is filled with pestilence and disease and lives in a deep blue lake in the town of Lasia (in some cases it’s referred to as Silene). As near as I can tell, Lasia is a made-up town, kind of like Disney World — only, y’know, with less plague-riddled dragons kicking about.
I digress. Each day the people in Lasia would feed this monstrosity two sheep just to keep the bloody thing at bay. Then one day the dragon lost the taste for sheep, so the town began to feed this dragon their young.
The “supper child” was chosen by lottery.
And, as luck would have it, the deed fell to the king to offer his daughter to the dragon. Distraught, the King offered all his gold and silver and half the kingdom to anyone who would take her place.
They declined. Natch.
So they king did what any self-respecting Father would do — he dressed her up like a bride and marched her down to the dragon.
Then, as if by magic, St. George happened to be passing by upon his steed and saw the woman being terrorized, and sprung into action. Leaving out the gory details, George took a big whack at the dragon, wounding it almost to the point of death. He then called for the king’s daughter to throw over her girdle, and he tamed the dragon.
The two marched the dragon back to Lasia, much to the terror of the townsfolk. George proclaimed to the crowd that if they converted to Christianity he would slay the dragon on site.
They did. He did. And they were all cured. Huzzah!
Sometimes, when I think of this journey I’m on. I feel a kinship to this story.
As if, inside of me was this pestilent dragon, and for years I’ve been feeding it and feeding it and feeding it.
My dragon thrived on a steady diet of self-destruction — one that I was more than happy to provide.
About seven years ago I walked into a gym and asked for help. They weighed me, showed me the machines, and I started the process of getting fit. This all came about through a sudden sense of panic that I was losing control of my weight.
Unfortunately, I became frustrated by somebody who worked there — which is another way of saying that I created an excuse to quit and continue feeding the dragon. After that I just completely lost control of my life.
Yesterday I found this picture of myself. This was from a newspaper article in 2005. I’m at the lowest weight of my adult life there
And then I looked at this picture. This is from a taping of CBC Radio’s DNTO that was recorded in St. John’s last summer. This is me at 415 pounds — in actuality, I’m probably bigger than that.
When I made this discovery I was taken aback. It put into context exactly how much weight I had gained. And how out of control I really was.
After stepping on the scale this morning and discovering that I’m dropping weight consistently from week to week — I’ve discovered something else.
The weight loss is not what I’m most proud of.
I’m most proud of my ability to face truths. Seeing this visual comparison a year ago may have been enough knock me off my course.
Small things were once debilitating. The most insignificant comment would lead me down a twisted garden path to self-loathing. Crumpled in doubt on my couch, lashing myself with my thoughts like some devout monk.
These days, that’s no longer the case. I’m able to look at my life with the confidence of a man who knows that all will be well. Criticism is something that I cherish, in my constant push to improve not only my fitness, but me as a man.
The dragon has now been silenced.
And I stand before you converted.