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How to atone when one is a dragon

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A dragon is about to land
Tread carefully, dragon. You mean well but your talons are long and your teeth are sharp.

Even dragons, famously good navigators, sometimes lose their way

When one is a dragon (and I am one), there is a lot to answer for.

While Eastern dragons have a well deserved reputation for benevolence, we Western dragons must come to terms with our checkered past.

Part of being a modern dragon is asking tough questions. It’s not enough to just not swoop around, terrorizing the countryside. We have to ask ourselves, each one of us: have I acted justly? If not, can I make amends? How can I do better?

And try as I might, I’m far from perfect. I’d like to seek forgiveness and perhaps, peace, for some of my own missswoops.

Although there are so many things to pick from, in this forum I’d like to publicly ask forgiveness and seek atonement:

For breathing disproportionate fire

Breathing fire isn’t easy. Mastering the process of opening your jaws and spewing out a plume of fiery gas (or plasma, as the case may be) requires years of dedicated training.

But for all those efforts, sometimes the even harder part is knowing when not to breathe fire.

As a dragon, sometimes the scariest thing is learning that you breathed fire when you didn’t mean to, and you didn’t even realize it.

Fire control is so difficult.

And it’s especially concerning to realize that sometimes I have breathed fire and harmed people or things around me.

There are lots of justifications I like to offer myself for why it’s okay that I breathed fire inappropriately. None of them are any good.

For instance, eating too much hot sauce is not an excuse to breathe fire indoors, if you knew or should have known the taco had hot sauce in it. (You can read more about this phenomenon in my review of a crucial study and its sequel on the topic.)

Being frustrated is not an excuse to breathe fire. The wisest and strongest dragons aspire to master their own selves. Although I try, I am not there yet.

Being in a hurry is not an excuse to spark or smoke. Even if the line deserved it.

I seek forgiveness.

I must do better.

I will do better.

A cute little red dragonet is flying, perhaps looking for a book
So cuddly! Also, be careful with that fire, young dragonet.

For not doing enough to prevent and repair thwack damage

For most dragons, tail thwack damage is simply a fact of life.

I am very lucky to have a big, scaly tail that goes THWACK. I consider myself a careful, agile individual, but thwaccidents do happen.

Let’s just say I will not be visiting the fine pottery shop again. By mutual agreement.

But really, I should be more realistic. Let’s suppose, for sake of argument, that you had a tail and your tail was 19 feet long. Can you really very credibly claim to be surprised when that tail bumps into something? Honestly no.

So I have to conclude that I ought to do a better job anticipating and avoiding likely thwacks. Admonishing your friends, roommates and coworkers to “watch out for the tail!” only gets you so far, morally speaking.

And the other half of it is repairing thwack damage when it does occur. Especially when it impacts public property. (Sorry, town of Guilford, Connecticut! More on that later.)

In conclusion on this point, I call upon myself and all dragons to prevent thwack damage when possible, and to pay for or repair it when not.

For swooping inconsiderately

This is probably familiar enough: your dragonet is sick and so you and your mate are up half the night. You get up in the morning, bleary eyed, and after doing the whole breakfast routine, somehow manage to get out of the lair.

But oops, you’re already late for work, and so rather than put on human-style clothes and take the subway, you throw caution, and your wings, into the wind and swoop down into the city.

Next thing you know you’re on the morning news. The headline is something like this:

  • Dragon sighted swooping down I-95
  • Winged terror casts shadow over morning commute
  • Traffic patterns come to a halt to watch mystery flight

And really, that’s no good. If it’s not an emergency, there’s no justification for that kind of disruption.

And it’s not any excuse just because you’re out of town, on a work trip. “I’m not from around here!” is not very persuasive because you can pretty much guarantee that no municipality wants its residents to feel terrified by the surprise vision of gigantic wings soaring over main street.

So I want to apologize especially to the city of Cleveland for all the trouble last week. I am mostly sure it won’t happen again.

At least, not without notice, or excepting an emergency.

Dragons! We must hold ourselves to a higher standard

For all these things, and more; for what I did badly or too much; for what I did well but not enough; I seek atonement.

At this time of reflection, I offer a meditation.

Dragons have no greater nor any lesser place in this universe than any other creature. True, we may be larger than most creatures, but that does not give us the right to act unjustly. We must use our fantastical abilities only for good. And we must never allow the minor differences between us to drive a wedge between us, or between us and the global community.

  • We must never choose whose scales are shinier.
  • We must never judge whose fire is fierier.
  • We must never say whose tail is thwackier.

Wishing peace,


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Rin Rickman

Monday 22nd of April 2024

Also sorry for those typos the auto fill on my phone is not friendly to meaty paws lol

Rin Rickman

Monday 22nd of April 2024

I love the advice on how to not accidentally terrify people. I think I might still be a dragnet though if breathing fire is still a requirement for adulthood. I have definitely had the physical challenges (claws and teeth especially but the urge to sharpen and now on things is just so fun!)

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