The Tiger Behind the Tree

All my life, I have fought my gut. What I mean is, I’ve gone against my instincts. Just like a gazelle can sense a tiger nearby (let’s just assume that they co-exist in the same habitat), we all have an innate sense of danger, that thing inside of us that tells us that bad things are lurking somewhere around us. Of course, danger comes in many different guises.

I’ve often regretted not listening to my instincts because they were usually right. And I discovered that to be true yet again this past month. Only this time, I did listen to my instincts and I was glad that I did.

So, I’ll briefly tell you a metaphorical story. I was invited to a party out on the savanna. I got a little hungry on the way there, so when I spotted a fruit tree, I started to make my way over to it. (Don’t tell me that fruit trees don’t grow on savannas—it doesn’t matter.) But my gut told me that there was something wrong. At first, I ignored my gut and started to move toward the tree, but after every step I took, I stopped and hesitated. Then a I heard a scary noise. That did it—I turned and ran. Turned out, there was a tiger lurking behind the tree, ready to jump out and pounce on me. But it’s okay. I didn’t get hungry. I found another tree where there was no tiger lurking.

I will admit that part of the reason that I followed my gut was because I had a lot to do at the party and I told myself that I didn’t have time to stop for that fruit. But, ultimately, it was my gut telling me to run.

In the real-life situation, I was supposed to act on something, but kept putting it off. Every time it entered my head to do it, something kept telling me to hold off. I realized that my gut had stopped me from doing it.

The human instinct is a fascinating thing. It reminds us that we really still are part of the animal kingdom, except that we fight it. Why do we fight it? Is being in tune with the world around us beneath us? I think the opposite is true. We should be humbled by the world around us and honored when the world tries to help us in some way.

The world helps the gazelles by whispering “danger” in their ears. The gazelles listen. Why don’t we?

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