Once upon a time, a monk was being chased by two tigers. He came to the edge of a cliff. He looked back -- the tigers were almost upon him. Noticing a vine leading over the cliff, he quickly crawled over the edge and began to let himself down by the vine. Then as he checked below, he saw two tigers waiting for him at the bottom of the cliff. He looked up and observed that two mice were gnawing away at the vine.
Just then, he saw a beautiful strawberry within arm’s reach. He picked it, and enjoyed the most delicious strawberry of his entire life.
I am moved to share this story because the month of December can be a stressful one, with the end of another year looming like the sudden drop off a cliff.
As we scramble and rush to stay ahead of various "threats" both real and imagined, it is all too easy to miss the small but profound moments of beauty that routinely offer themselves to us in the present moment. The monk's decision to use his final moment to relish the present, rather than worry about the future, reminds us of the countless choices we make every day about whether or not to savor life -- while it's here, right in front of our faces.
This month, when you start to feel your own tigers breathing down your neck -- I hope you will give yourself the permission to look around for the strawberries, and relax your grip just enough to reach out and taste them.