Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Smile on the Face of the Tiger

When I was in Highschool that was the name of one of our poetry books.

I loved it. How exotic! How mysterious! It sparked so much in my imagination. What could make a tiger smile? What was it thinking? Planning? How did a tiger view the world? What other human qualities did it have? I couldn't wait to read that poem.

It was a trite little limerick.

There once was a lady from Niger,
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They came back from the ride,
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

So I was disappointed, my grand dreams empty.

But really, of course, they weren't. Because I was the one who had dreamed them, not the author of the limerick. I still had my fantastic images, my imagination could still roam.

And so that one little poem and title became more than the author or editor dreamed (or maybe it didn't, maybe they felt this too). It has become a hugely complex and rich metaphor in my life. It reminds me that things that look awesome and fantastic may actually be prosaic, which can be positive if I am overwhelmed. It reminds me that something simple may be the spark that inspires someone. It reminds me that you never know what may hold the seeds of greatness.

And it reminds me that there are disappointments.

But I have the choice. I can limit myself to the limerick, when I was expecting so much more. Or I can disappear into the jungle, to follow the tiger and find out if he's still smiling.

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