The Hobbit: Where There’s Treasure, There’s Always a Dragon

Hobbit By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Bilbo Baggins and the band of dwarves continue their quest to steal the Arkenstone back from the dragon who has it (the Smaug of the title), along with all the dwarven treasure stored inside the Lonely Mountain.

Thorin Oakenshield, the dwarf who is heir to the kingdom of the Lonely Mountain, desperately wants the Arkenstone because he believes it will reunite the scattered dwarven families so they can destroy the dragon who stole their home. He wants to rule over his rightful kingdom. He wants the gold. It’s the dream that drives him.

As the band finally reaches the mountain and Bilbo heads into the depths to steal the Arkenstone, the oldest of the dwarves pulls Bilbo aside.

“If there is a dragon sleeping down there,” he says, “don’t wake it.”

The problem is that if you want the treasure, you’ll never be able to get it without waking the dragon.

It’s a truth well known to fantasy fans. It’s a truth that’s equally true in life.

The only difference is that the treasures we seek in real life aren’t piles of gold or magical stones. They’re usually less tangible—the dreams and goals we have for our lives.

And the dragons…they don’t have impenetrable scales and they don’t breath fire. But they’re no less dangerous. They’re doubts. Fears. Insecurities. Sometimes they’re even people or circumstances standing between us and the thing we most desire.

Dragons are scary things, so when we first realize they’re standing between us and our treasure, sometimes it’s easier to give up on the treasure. That’s the path the unhappy Thorin had chosen until Gandalf encouraged him to go after the Arkenstone, dragon or no dragon.

When we first try to reach the treasure, we often take the same tactic Bilbo took. We try to sneak around it, hoping it won’t wake up. Hoping it won’t see us. We try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

But dragons, in real life like in fantasy, can’t be tiptoed around. Trying only delays the inevitable.

When we wake the dragon and have to face it, many of us will try to bargain with it or trick it. I’ll only do this, if this happens. If I do this, it doesn’t really mean I’m that kind of person. I don’t have to do thus-and-so to succeed. I’ll follow my dream when a certain perfect situation occurs. I didn’t really want it anyway.

Like when Bilbo tried to flatter Smaug, dragons won’t be tricked by words and rationalizations.

And so we’re left with only one option if we want the treasure.

It won’t be easy. We’ll come out the other side a little more battered than when we went in. The costs may be higher than we ever thought.

But it’s the only way.

Because if we decide to give up on this treasure and chase another, we won’t be avoiding facing a dragon. We’ll only be changing dragons.

Where there’s treasure, there’s always a dragon. The dragon always wakes. And if you want the treasure, there’s only one way—fight the dragon and slay it.

January is the time when most of us think about where we want our year to head. What’s your treasure and your dragon? Have you managed to face it?

Special Announcement: I’ll be releasing a book of suspense short stories in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

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Do You Ever Feel Like You Don’t Fit In?

How to Train Your DragonIf you’ve ever felt like you don’t fit in, you have something in common with a Viking teenager named Hiccup.

Hiccup is the scrawny, clumsy, yet creative son of the Viking chieftain in the Dreamworks movie How to Train Your Dragon. No one quite understands Hiccup’s unique ways of doing things. More than anything he wants to kill one of the mysterious Night Fury dragons who attack his village, because he thinks that if he does, he’ll earn his father’s respect and won’t be the laughingstock of his tribe any more. All of Hiccup’s attempts to fit in only make him stick out more, and the girl he has a crush on thinks he’s a loser.

At times I’ve felt a lot like Hiccup. I grew up a sparrow in a family of blue jays. I desperately wanted them to like me and be proud of me. I wanted to feel like I fit in and was accepted, but I couldn’t hide how different I was. Like Hiccup, my weirdness always reared its head at the most inconvenient times.

But Hiccup figured out quicker than I did that, when you’re willing to be yourself, you’ll find truly creative solutions to the problems you’re facing.

One night, during a dragon attack, Hiccup manages to use one of the weapons he’s created to bring down a Night Fury, but no one believes him. He goes out looking for it on his own, planning to cut out its heart and bring it back as proof.

The only problem is that, when he finds the dragon, he can’t kill it. He’s the first Viking in 300 years who wouldn’t kill a dragon. He sets it free instead and thus begins a friendship that seems to prove he’s the world’s worst Viking. The dragon, who Hiccup names Toothless, shows him everything the Vikings thought about the dragons was wrong, and eventually their friendship helps save the village.

If Hiccup had been like every other Viking, the cycle of Vikings killing dragons and dragons killing Vikings would have continued until one wiped the other out. It’s always been the people who are brave enough to be themselves who come up with the greatest innovations.

Leonardo da Vinci. Albert Einstein. Steve Jobs.

And, eventually, if you stay true to yourself, you’ll find people who like you for who you are.

Near the end of How to Train Your Dragon, the girl Hiccup likes asks him what he’s going to do about the fact that his father has chained up Toothless and is headed to destroy the dragons’ nest.

“Probably something crazy,” Hiccup says.

Her lips quirk into a smile. “That’s more like it.”

She and the other Viking teens help Hiccup because, over the past weeks, they’ve learned to like him just the way he is, quirks and all. In the end, he also earns his father’s respect. He never would have earned it by trying to fit in.

I wish I could tell you I earned what I wanted from my extended family, but I haven’t yet. I have seen a little progress, a little hope. Even if they never come to accept me, I have a husband who does, and parents and a brother who believe in me. And in being myself, I’ve found friends both online and offline who like me just the way I am, in all my nerdy glory. For all of you, I’m very grateful.

Have you struggled to fit in only to have it fail? Have you been able to finally find people who accept you and like you just the way you are?

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