Monday Zen: The Tiger & The Lamb

Once upon a time, a lamb was drinking water from a mountain stream. A tiger came to drink the water a few yards above him, saw the lamb, and said, "Why are you muddying my stream?"

The lamb said, "How can I be muddying your stream? I'm down here and you're up there?"

"But you did it yesterday."

"I wasn't even here yesterday!"

"Then it must have been your mother."

"My mother has been dead for awhile. They took her away."

"Then it must have been your father."

"My father? I don't even know who he is!

"I don't care. It must have been your grandfather or great-grandfather who has been muddying my stream. So I am going to eat you!", the tiger exclaimed.

And with that he pounced on the lamb and made a meal of him.

One of my favorite scenes in The Dark Knight is when Alfred tells Bruce Wayne the story of the jewel thief:

“A long time ago I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit.

So, we went looking for the stones. But, in 6 months, we never met anyone who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine - the bandit had been throwing them away.”

“So why steal them?”

“Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

What Alfred is trying to explain is that Batman’s enemy, the Joker, isn’t your average criminal. The Joker is the tiger. He shows up at the river and picks a fight. Just because he can. It’s who he is, and there’s nothing you can do to change it.

Some people aren’t looking for anything when they torpedo your life with toxic words, bad ideas, and terrible habits. They can’t be healed, appeased, or convinced to change their minds. Some people just want to tear others down.

Their pain sits so deep you can’t get to them and it’s not your job to try and do so. Your job is to realize it before they pounce and get out of the way.

Life is better when you’re a lamb. You can mind your own business, be calm and happy, and you’ll get along with almost everybody.

But don’t be naïve. Don’t trot into an obvious trap. Go through the world with open eyes. Stay aware of real danger. Watch out.

And when a tiger is making excuses to attack, run like hell.


About Monday Zen: Most people hate Monday. Why? In a good life, it’s a day like any other. At the very least, it shouldn’t be worse by default. That’s what Monday Zen is for: To make sure you start the week with calm, poise, and determination.

Let’s not derail our trains of thought before they leave the station. Let’s enjoy the journey.

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