Whenever someone asks me “What’s your favorite animal?” or “What animal would you be if you could?” I always answer by saying “dragons”. Sure, maybe they don’t technically exist in the form most people think of them, but so what? They are so cool! They are mystical, powerful, beautiful creatures. They captivate the imagination. They combine many elements of some of the world’s most beloved animals – from their dazzling, colorful scales to their fierce talons and fangs to their ability to soar above the clouds.
Many also breath fire! Dragons are the ultimate animal. Top of the food chain. Mighty, yet graceful. Enigmatic, yet almost universally admired worldwide. How could you not love dragons? They are the subject of ancient folklore. They are celebrated in some civilizations as symbols of peace and good luck. Some think of them as symbols of sheer power, commanding respect and deference. Dragons truly are magnificent.
I personally love all the endless varieties of sizes, colors, and features with which artists have rendered them over the years. When I was a kid I was given a book of dragons for Christmas. I absolutely adored it. I used to pour over the pages for hours, gazing at all the different types of dragons contained in them. Some were large and striking in appearance. Some were small and slender. Some were red with fiery eyes, some were deep blue with yellow stripes or spots. Some had exquisitely shiny green scales. Others were brown or dark-grey and appeared to have blind, silvery eyes. Some were covered in spikes. Some had broad, flat heads with long whiskers that looked almost like mustaches. All were drawn in great detail. I loved to not only look at the beauty of each one but I also wondered what they would be like if I were to meet them. Some looked like they would have pleasant temperaments and would quite enjoy a visit, while others looked like all they wanted to do was guard their enormous piles of treasure.
As an adolescent I quite enjoyed the depictions of dragons by artist Myles Pinkney. I used to own a calendar by Pinkney with a dozen drawings in it of wizards and their dragon companions. After the year was over I carefully cut out each picture and hung them on my bedroom wall.
Dragons are so popular that they are featured in scores of movies and TV shows. The first to come to my mind are Merlin (the live action film with Sam Neill), Disney’s Mulan, Harry Potter, and Falkor, the magic luck dragon in The Neverending Story. There are of course so many more. Dragons can play a key role in unforgettable stories such as these. Ask yourself, what would these movies be like without dragons? Not to mention the countless books with dragons in them.
Just this last summer I read a book by Laurence Yep called Dragonwings. It’s a story of a Chinese family moving to San Francisco in the late 1800’s. Part of the reason I enjoyed the book so much was because of how dragons are incorporated in the story. The father reveals how it is his belief that he was a great dragon in a previous life and that his mortal life as a human is a test. If he passes the test well, he will be allowed to return to his once glorious life as a dragon. It is this belief that fuels his desire to build a flying machine (a primitive airplane) which he calls Dragonwings. He desperately wants once again to feel what it was like to glide through the air like he used to do. I also enjoyed the story because the main character – a young Chinese boy – teaches his young American friend that back in his home country, dragons are considered to be kind, helpful, majestic creatures, not the brutal killing machines western society sometimes makes them out to be.
Heck, even the most valuable Pokémon card on the market is a dragon Pokémon: the classic Charizard. Have you ever searched the most expensive Charizard cards on eBay? (Hint: they list for hundreds of thousands of dollars). When I was a kid I also used to love collecting and displaying dragon figurines. I still have some, actually. I love how they are made with different materials, and how some come with snow globes or colored lights, or both. Those were some of the coolest birthday gifts I ever received. I even had one that was a 3 ½ foot tall figurine of a dragon snaking its way around a castle! It was awesome! Which also reminds me of how popular dragons are as carnival prizes too. Always a big hit with the kids. Much better than some of the shapeless, boring new designs these days. I remember one summer I saw a mini golf carnival game that caught my eye because the jumbo prize was a sweet stuffed dragon. Three different color schemes, nonetheless. I usually stay away from most carnival games but those prizes looked so cool, I had to try! I ended up hitting the farthest hole-in-one 6 times and won 6 of those awesome dragons! Woohoo! A lady walking by saw my big pile of prizes and she even paid me to win one for her! It was such a blast!
These are some of the reasons why dragons are so incredible and why I love them so much. The next time someone asks you what your spirit animal is, think of the majestic, mighty dragons!