Tigers Do Not Purr

Posted by on September 10, 2012

A Look at Choices and Consequences

You wrestle with lions daily.

Lions are powers outside yourself: circumstance and serendipity, fate and phenomenon, bad luck and good. A lion can oppose or assist you. It can be your enemy or friend.

A gang of lions is called a pride. Interesting.

Unlike lions, tigers are solitary.

Your tiger is your own, inner ferocity: Determination. Commitment. Focus. Hence the phrase, “The eye of the tiger.”

The tiger will not be denied.

Gentle persons don’t like to believe they possess an inner ferocity, but I agree with William Blake, “He that gently made the lamb hath made the tiger also.”

The tiger within you calculates the cost of your choices and agrees to pay the price. Make no mistake; every choice has a cost.

Here are 3 more things you should know:

1. All tigers have a similar marking on their forehead, which resembles the Chinese symbol Wang, meaning King. Likewise, the tiger within you is king, the captain of your soul, choosing what it chooses and paying in whatever coin is required:

Coin 1. Time – Time, like money, is spent. But unlike money, time cannot be replaced.
Coin 2. Embarrassment – Embarrassment, or the risk of it, accompanies all your important choices.
Coin 3. Deprivation – All the things not chosen are the price of every choice you make.
Coin 4. Relationship – You make demands on those who care for you and thereby alter the bond that connects. Will your choice make this bond stronger or weaker?
Coin 5. Effort – The pain of “trying” is a coin all its own. And in its shadow is embarrassment if you fail.
Coin 6. Conscience – When your tiger sides with your conscience, the price is that which your conscience denies you. But when your tiger overrules your conscience, the price is paid in the coin of embarrassment. And the audience that is watching… is you.

2. Shave the fur from a tiger and it will still have stripes. Fur is merely an outward thing. The true shape and color of the animal lies beneath. What stripe is tattooed beneath the fur of your outward personality? The skin-stripes of tigers are the source of the proverb, “a tiger cannot change its stripes,” meaning that we do not change our basic nature. We can only hope to overcome it.

3. The tiger’s most developed sense is its hearing. Likewise, the tiger within you is informed primarily by what you hear, including those printed words that echo in your mind as you read.

What do you read? What have you been feeding your tiger?

Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, understands tigers.

Calvin’s tiger, Hobbes, lives exclusively in the mind of Calvin. When anyone else is in the picture, Hobbes is just a small, stuffed toy.

Likewise, none of us sees the tiger that lives in another. We see only a sketch of a tiger drawn by their choices and actions.

Watterson understands the power of silent voice. He famously decided that Calvin and Hobbes would live only on the printed page. No animated cartoons. The only voices of Calvin and Hobbes are those that each of us hears in our minds as we read their words on the printed page.

And Brother Watterson understands “paying the price.” In this case, that price is the many millions of dollars he forfeits each year by not licensing Calvin and Hobbes. No toys. No action figures. No paraphernalia. Tens of millions of dollars would appear in his bank account if the man would simply say the word “Yes.”

Bill Watterson is either a giant among men or one of the greatest fools that has ever lived. This you must decide for yourself.

But one thing is stunningly clear:
Watterson’s tiger does not purr.

I like him.

Roy H. Williams
“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river that carries me away, but I am the river; it is a tiger that mangles me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, alas, is real; I, alas, am Borges.” 
- Jorge Luis Borges

Leave a Reply