For many years, the tiger wandered the earth, from jungle to jungle, desert lowland to mountain vista, roaming wherever his powerful tiger instinct led him. All along the way, the tiger wondered – is this my new home? Is this where I am to settle down, to raise my young?
Eventually, however, after many long, and some quite lean years, the tiger woke up, and realized that the place he found himself was actually pretty close to ideal. Now this was not just one place – not only a jungle, nor simply a lush lowland field, nor even only a mountainside. In fact, it was each of these – a land so diverse as to incorporate a bit of each. And rather than staying within the confines of just one particular terrain, the tiger had the luxury and the freedom to roam from one type of terrain to another at will. Yet never having to roam too far at all.
The tiger became quite content in that ability to change environments and surroundings without needing to travel for days on end looking for his next meal. In fact, these particular grounds were quite fertile indeed. And if, on any particular day, he was hungry for manna, he simply showed up and it was there for him to feast upon.
Because the tiger became quite intimate with this diverse and bountiful place, all the beasts who also wandered these lands came to know him as a peaceful tiger, yet one who commanded respect simply because he knew so well how to do what he did each day. And eventually he became known as the peaceful tiger.
Along the way, a lion, a bear, and eventually other tiger cubs found their way to this land, the cubs looking for an opportunity to learn from a tiger master. One who could teach them the laws of the jungle just as easily as the laws of the lowland and the mountainside. Because they too, wanted to one day grow up to be peaceful tigers.
And all was good in the land.
Until a vulture came along. Now, obviously there are vultures around all the time. Seeking out an opportunity to feast upon their next meal. There were even vultures circling overhead from the very day the peaceful tiger arrived for the first time. And because these were wise vultures, they knew well that having a true tiger master around would be quite beneficial indeed. Because we all know that tigers will often make the vultures job almost effortless at times.
And too, the tiger, by then, also recognized that vultures played a critical role in the cycles of life. And that collaborating with wise vultures was something to celebrate – for the tiger master and the wise vulture combination is a formidable one indeed.
Except when this particular vulture showed up.
Because, unlike his wise kin, this particular vulture was less than wise. This is not to say he was a dumb vulture. On the contrary, this particular vulture had not long ago circled high above the verdant plains of a most bountiful land not far from here. Had lived and thrived even, in that land.
But here he was, nonetheless, in this new land, hoping to find as much or more bounty than he’d previously known. Except it was a land that while, on the surface, and from the air high above, it appeared to look just like his previous domain, this new land was quite foreign indeed.
So foreign, that for all intents and purposes, it might as well have been an alien world. Because, you see, in that previous land, this new vulture had been lord over all things. No other beast was greater, more powerful or more successful in it’s endeavors.
But in this new land, the vulture was lost from the beginning. Oh, sure, he knew how to soar high into the sky, in anticipation of catching that next current that would allow him to lazily circle above the ground. Except this land, being one where three quite distinctly different lands converged into one, was a place where the rules for flying, and the rules for feasting were truly unique and unlike anything the vulture ever experienced before.
Upon his original arrival, this vulture, showing all the signs of eagerness, enthusiasm, and absolute desire to give his all to his mission in life, was greeted warmly by all. Even the peaceful tiger. Because they knew there was much bounty to be had indeed. So much that together they’d only tapped a tiny fraction of the total abundance to that point. And so, one more vulture would, under the right circumstances, only help all concerned.
But it became rapidly apparent that this was a clueless vulture. Blatantly stumbling even when trying to simply walk on the stable ground beneath his claws. And when he flew, or shall we say, “attempted to fly”, the other vultures, the lion, the peaceful tiger, and even the young tiger cubs all could not help but chuckle. And occasionally break out in an uncontrollable cacophony of laughter.
Still though, everyone felt empathy for the vulture, new as he was to their oddly different land. Because each of them could instantly recall a time in their lives when they, too, were so lost.
But as days turned into weeks, and as the more seasoned vultures and the peaceful tiger all did their best to help the new guy out, it became even more evident that this would be a slow and sometimes downright painful process.
Being wise, the senior vulture knew, as did the also wise and peaceful tiger, that if the new guy didn’t start paying more attention, going out of his way to honor what he’d been taught, a storm would first start brewing, and possibly even erupt, and somebody was going to get hurt.
Because of this, the peaceful tiger made it a special point along the way to set up certain indisputable rules of the land, made especially for the new guy. Now these were not draconian rules. On the contrary – they were really rules designed in a way to actually help the new guy. And more importantly to the peaceful tiger, they were rules designed to save the established inhabitants of the land untold grief. Especially the senior vulture, and the peaceful tigers’ little cubs.
Yet no matter how or how often the peaceful tiger communicated the rules to the new guy, he just never seemed to remember them when it counted – when he was about to take flight, or as he took flight and encountered a most unruly current.
The result of this ignoring of the rules only led to pain for the new guy. And too, for the peaceful tiger.
And as the weeks turned into months, the new guy kept wanting to get the tiger cubs to do things for him. Things the cubs were not meant to do at all. Because they were tiger cubs, after all, not little vultures.
This of course, inevitably stirred the maternal instinct in the peaceful tiger. And occasionally, he’d growl, and sometimes even let out a battle cry. But only long enough to cause the new guy to sit up and pay attention. At which point he immediately would recognize his place in the natural order. And back down, he did.
Until the next flight.
So by the time three full moons had come and gone over the land, the peaceful tiger was at the end of his patience. Which is, given the circumstance, quite reasonable indeed. Because too much time was being lost – time that should have been devoted to tigerly things. And tragically, one day, the new guy poked and poked and poked three times too often at the chest of the peaceful tiger, trying to get him to ignore the rules.
Well, no matter how much empathy this particular peaceful tiger has (and he has quite a bit more than most), he is still, first and foremost, a tiger. A truly efficient killing machine. It’s in his tiger DNA, right down to the cellular level.
So at one point, when the new guy went to poke yet one more time, the tiger stood up on his haunches, and let out a soul-deep battle cry to end all battle cries. One so loud it was heard in the furthest corners of the lowland, all through the jungle, and all the way up to the top of the mountainside.
And yet, even then, the vulture, feeling wounded just from the shear strength of that battle cry, attempted to lash back with even less reality-based reasoning than all his previous attempts.
And when that failed to yield him any ground whatever, the vulture got all indignant, and tried to raise his posture up high enough to be downright intimidating.
But please. A vulture? Intimidating to a tiger? A seasoned, been there done that tiger?
And in that moment, before the vulture knew what hit him, the tiger pounced. It happened so fast, in fact, that in an instant, the once peaceful tiger had completely transformed into the seasoned, battle hardened warrior tiger that had been sleeping quietly all these years.
And in the blink of a tiger cub’s eye, the normally peaceful tiger bit the vultures’ head clean off.
Moral of the story
If you’re new to a land, no matter how much previous experience you have in other lands, you better defer to those who have come before you to this land. Let them teach you as though you’re a noob. Even if it means swallowing your pride, it’s better to swallow your pride than to end up without a head.
And remember – just because a tiger may appear, on the outside, and through his actions, to be a peaceful tiger, remember that underneath that gentle and kind fur lies the heart of a warrior.