Tigers Above, Tigers Below

Trust the RFTA/Amtrak travel combo to turn me to religion.

Jokes aside, during the workshop at Anderson Ranch my raised-catholic brain was exposed the following story by a new Art Buddy. I was word-spewing [as I am prone to] about various stresses and fears and Modern Concerns and this Totally Cool Chill Person casually said “Tigers Above, tigers below.” Vaguely recognizing the phrase, I asked “Where’s that from?” And then it was story time.

Not exactly verbatim, but in the spirit of how she told it to me:

“So Buddha was being chased by tigers, and she saw a cliff ahead of her. Using a branch she shimmied out over the chasm to get away from the tigers. But she looked down and saw more hungry tigers below. And she saw a mouse or something was like chewing through the branch she was dangling from. She saw a strawberry plant growing out of the cliff face. She picked a strawberry, and enjoyed it thoroughly.”

I think the meaning is clear but I’ll repeat her summary combined with my understanding. There will always be tigers closing in on us and while we can, in the moments we can, we have to enjoy the strawberries.

So now, hungry, after multiple travel “hiccups” putting me a full day+ behind schedule, in a sweltering open air Park & Ride waiting to catch the Bustang to Denver, having given my coffee [and with it the thermos, oops] to a woman who is clearly having a Terrible Awful No Good Very Bad Several Days, and my phone battery rapidly depleting, I find myself going strawberry picking.

Strawberry 1: Planes don’t let you drink in how absurdly, amazingly, enormous the skies are for this long. You can’t watch the sky when you’re in it. And it’s stupid how big the sky is when there’s no pesky pine trees or civilization. Same for all the rigid, red, sawteeth hills that I’m still not convinced are real.

Strawberry 2: Finally edging a little bit out of the “glow in the dark” zone of pasty “I work indoors” pale.

Strawberry 3: Have not had this much time to myself to sit and think about “Buddhist parables” and “clouds” since before the pandemic. It’s uncomfortable which means it’s probably good for me.

Strawberry 4: The bus isn’t free, but at least the waiting is.

I’m sure there are more little treasures to this moment that a more mature, well adjusted, and introspective person could get out of it. But this is a blog, not an autobiography. Full insights on this trip will be available in print in maybe 15-30 years. Stay tuned. I’m sure they’ll be great.

[Also I made art this week. Photos coming.]

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