Friday, January 9, 2015


     When I was a kid I loved to go to the zoo. In our zoo the Tiger lived on an island in the center of a watery river shaped pool. The island was made to appear to be some sort of comfortable place with grass, there was a fabric top to give some shade. At the back of the island was a cave – like entrance to an interior space where we presume the Tiger would be fed.
     Across the watery river in which the Tiger swam was very tall, very thick iron bars. On the other side of the iron bars was a smaller set of bars which marked the pathway for the visitors.
     The island was wider than it was deep - kind of a “show cage” and that there was no place really for the Tiger to rest or be that wasn’t visible to the crowd at the zoo.
     Then one day the zoo decided to do away with all of the cages. This was a custom and style in the 1980s in which many zoos allowed their animals to be in what appeared to be a more “natural” environment. In some zoos they totally shifted to a drive-through “Safari” presentation. I was not the case of my zoo, but they did do away with the feeling of “cages”.

     I remember that the opening of the zoo and its new form was highly publicized. I was in grade school when this transformation happened and I remember asking my parents to take me to the zoo when it reopened. I made my way to the Tiger cage – or what had been the Tiger cage – and saw that the island on which the Tiger had spent so much time was still there and in fact had been expanded. The building behind where the Tiger had gone inside was changed totally. But, the little island was still there. What was different was that the side “walls” of the cage were removed. The watery river ran further in both directions. The island was no longer an island.
     But when I got to what was in my mind the “Tiger Island” there was the Tiger just like always. And interestingly the Tiger would take 20 steps in one direction, stop and turn around; then take 20 steps in the opposite direction, stop and turn around even though there was no cage to stop the Tiger.
     The only cage which stopped the Tiger was the cage in his mind which was laid down by past experience.

     This is one of the most difficult things to change about ourselves is breaking past our own inbuilt patterns of thinking which had become patterns of behavior. The past can be a cage which can block our future changes. It’s not only our pattern of thinking but the pattern of thinking which others have about us. At one time decided to leave a corporate job and become self-employed. I had to totally change myself. First I started with my own self, then I changed how I dressed, how I cut my hair, I even took speech lessons to change how I spoke, I took lessons on how to run my own business so that I gained confidence, bought new clothes, rented my office. It took over a year for people to treat me differently. 
     Then I had to break the past week-after-week as I pitched new business, won some, lost some. Once you start changing you can change more quickly. 
     It took over a year for the Tiger not to pace the nonexistent cage. Step-by-step we can break the past over and over again.

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved

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