The Thing I Like About …

Reign of Fire:  the part where the dragon is leaning into the castle as though it were a bowl of soup.

In Reign of Fire, dragons have awakened from some centuries-long slumber and have begun terrorizing villagers again – laying waste to whole cities and bringing humans to the brink of extinction.  Some few survivors remain in fortified battlements – castles, for instance – and they stay inside and underground as much as possible.

But eventually a dragon finds them.  He lands next to the castle tower, and his massive claws grip the edge of the tower, and he leans in breathing fire on everything inside.  Next to this dragon, the tower – ordinarily a giant structure dominating the landscape – seems small and vulnerable.  It seems like a toy.

I think humans should be (for the most part) pleased and proud of what we’ve accomplished.  We’ve built great things, and devised many cunning schemes, and climbed both physical and metaphorical mountains that have brought us farther than our ancestors could ever have imagined.  But out of this success and ingenuity has grown the absurd notion that we are indestructible.  And out of that notion has grown an increasing lack of perspective: we forget very easily what is important, because we forget how easily what is important can be taken away.  We allow ourselves to feel that there will always be one more day, and that good ol’ hard work will always triumph over any obstacle – maybe even without the hard work.

It’s better, I think, to focus on those things we didn’t build – and therefore cannot re-build if they are taken from us – our children, our friends and family, our connection to one another as a species.  It’s better, too, while feeling pleased and proud of our accomplishments, to remember that they are finite – as are we.  If we put our faith and attention in these transitory things – however strong and permanent our castles may seem – we’ll feel pretty ridiculous when one blast of draconian fire blows it all away.

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