Sleeping on a Dragon’s Hoard

Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.

 C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


I find a tug-of-war is always taking place between my better nature, the person I aspire to be, and the lesser, the one who is the source of bad choices I make.

It is a common theme in literature. In American folklore there is an oft repeated story about two dogs or wolves, one good and one bad, that live inside of everyone and daily fight for supremacy. I’ve seen it attributed to a Native American elder, Sitting Bull, a Cherokee proverb and just generally characterized as a Native American saying. The conclusion of the story, whatever its source, is the dog that is fed the most wins.

I love the quote from Lewis.  Those of you familiar with his writing will recognize in it the plight of poor Eustace Scrubb, a boy who fell asleep on a dragon’s hoard with dragonish thoughts in his heart and naturally became a dragon himself.

Lewis may have meant to accomplish no more than to make a good story. A proper enough goal at that. But to me it speaks of the need to remain intentional in life. To fall asleep is to yield to influence and desire (dragon’s gold) without the restraint of wakefulness.

When I “sleep” I lose the perspective of the purpose and the calling of God on my life. I drift through life easily influenced against my better judgement, easily persuaded to abandon my values. I surrender to a sleep that asks nothing of me, that fails to call me to change. I become increasingly like the dragon of my desires. To thoroughly mix my metaphors, I feed the bad dog.