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by Sarah Ban Breathnach

When we live our lives authentically, we discover our true place in the world for the first time. But this self-knowledge is not easily acquired. It takes tenacity and daring to travel to the darkest interior of one’s self. Who knows what we might find out there? “It does not do to leave a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him,” the writer J. R. R. Tolkien advises.

Our dragons are our fears: our day stalkers, our night sweats. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failing. Fear of starting something new and not finishing. Again. Or the real fear, the one that sends shivers up our spines: the fear of succeeding, of becoming our authentic selves and facing the changes that will inevitably bring. We might not be happy with the way we are living now, but at least it’s familiar.

We don’t know where we are headed and it’s very scary. Old dreams are resurrecting, new desires are wooing. Instead of clarity, we feel confused. At moments like this, it is comforting to consider T. S. Eliot’s belief that there is really nothing to fear from self-awareness because at the end of all our personal exploration, we will arrive back where we started and know in our hearts that we finally belong there.

Women have always known how to deal with dragons hiding under beds or lurking in closets. We turn on the lights and reassure worried souls with love. We need to slay the dragons in our mind the same way.

Today, if you feel frightened or unsure about the future, pick up the double-edged sword of Love and Light. Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons. But as in the best old tales, at the end of your exploring, you will live happily ever after.