I once had a dream of being chased by a tiger.
I was quite young when I had that dream. I remember, running on a road, barefoot. But, my feet kept becoming heavier with each step until I couldn’t run any further.
I was standing at the edge of the road looking down where I could see a new road. I could also see a car. I did not know how to drive at that time so the thought crossed, “What use of the car, when I couldn’t drive? How could I protect myself from the tiger?”
Somewhere, during this dream, I also warn my cousin of the chasing tiger.
I try to pull her down with me so we could reach the car because I see that she has already given up. But, I keep pulling her and at last, we reach the car. Inside, we lock ourselves, thinking at least, we are safe now even if we didn’t know how to drive.
Then, I see it – the tiger. Standing in its magnificence right ahead of us. Cold sweat. Finding the key, I try to start the car. I put the first gear, release the clutch, press on the accelerator and I start driving. Slow but I am driving.
A thought. A question, rather. “How did I know how to drive?”
It doesn’t matter. I keep driving. Slow but I am driving.
Before long, the tiger becomes just an image in the rearview & side mirror.
By this time, I am alone in the car. There is no one. I drive alone. The fear that the tiger will continue to chase and find me exists but I continue driving.
I don’t remember feeling safe or relieved. I only remember continuing to drive.
Years later, a friend sends the following text:
“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World