Man with the Jade Dragon

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”

~Oscar Wilde

Everyone has their troubles. Many of us just keep it to ourselves. Sometimes, when I notice someone is upset, I feel as if I have discovered their secret.

I love looking at bright, colorful things. I love staring at things in nature, such as trees, cracked sidewalks, with their veins like lines in marble structures. I can almost feel the patterns being absorbed into my vision. It makes me think that if I open my eyes wider I can then absorb them better.


What also catches my eye is motion. In the subways, I liked to see if I could spot the moment of rats in the tracks below the platform. A bit disgusting of a habit, but nevertheless passes the time. In the trains, usually everyone is very still, either trying to maintain their balance, reading their Kindle, or enjoy their nap. I usually try not to stare too long at any person who catches my attention. The awkward moment where the person you were staring at catches you is just a little too uncomfortable for me. However, on this day, in the seat in front of me was a man who caught my eye. Or maybe I should say what he was doing caught my eye. In his hands was a jade dragon figurine. The little dragon had a string through a little hole above its head which was tied around the man’s finger. He constantly rubbed the dragon over and over again. His mouth seemed to be pursed tightly together. His face was young, it seemed like he was in his early forties. But he had receding gray and black hair that led to my deduction that he must be in his late forties or fifties.


I was transfixed by this secret ritual. I could not turn away. It made me wonder.  Was he nervous? Was he waiting for something? What was making him so distressed? I imagined his background. He had family issues and a son who he lacked communication with. His job was tough. He was strong though and worked very hard in everything he did. This figurine was his totem to keep him calm and grounded. I grew worried for him. I wished I could do something to help him, but alas, I was a stranger and he seemed very deep in thought. Later on I asked my mother about what the jade dragon might be about since she and the man were both Chinese. Jade in general is believed to bring good luck and fortune, especially when you rub it. This is why many Asian women and men wear jade accessories and have jade figurines in their home.

jade dragon

Whatever this man was going through, I hoped that the Jade Dragon would give him the luck he wished for.

~Sophia Calderone


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