The Tiger and the Crazy Painter
There’s something magical about the word freedom. Democracies are built on it, advertisers love it, and our teenage children insist on it. To live free is the dream of the bullied, troubled, upset, anxious, and suffering. It’s the hope of every living being. When I think of freedom, my mind drifts to a children’s tale about a colorless tiger held captive in a zoo…
The tiger’s body was covered with shades of black, white, and gray. Since the tiger’s fur lacked the beauty and sparkle of bright colors, it inspired a nickname among the zoo’s patrons: the colorless tiger. In fact, its lack of colors brought it much fame, and painters from around the world traveled to the zoo to put color on its fur. After each painter added new colors to the colorless tiger’s fur, the tiger’s body took on a new (albeit brief) beauty. However, the paint never remained, always falling off its fur within days.
Then one day a crazy painter named Van Cough (not to be confused with van Gogh) came along. He was a peculiar fellow, for although he used a brush, he never used any paint or paper. He just moved his brush around in the air, seeming to wish his way to a painting. As you can imagine, when he arrived at the zoo to put some color on the colorless tiger, everyone laughed.
Undeterred, Van Cough entered the cage and gently whispered in the tiger’s ear. He then moved his brush up and down in the air while continuing to speak softly to the tiger. Suddenly, the tiger’s black, white, and gray body took on dazzling new hues—the most vivid and beautiful colors a tiger ever had. Everyone was surprised and wanted to know the painter’s secret. Van Cough told them that his brush could only paint real life and therefore needed no colors. Instead of paint, he had merely whispered into the tiger’s ear:
In just a few days, you will be free.
Seeing how sad the tiger had been in its captivity, and how the prospect of freedom had brightened its day, the zookeepers took the tiger to the jungle where it would never again lose its color.
Tomorrow, we will look at how at how this story of the tiger’s freedom applies to us.
To be continued tomorrow…
Adapted from Section 1 of Awakening To I Am Love by David Youngren
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