Saturday, January 31, 2009

Recurring Themes

One of the most interesting stories I heard from my professors over the years was a story about lions.

The professor, an accomplished trial lawyer, invited his (very impressive) senior partner to guest lecture one night in Insurance Law. At the end of the class, the senior partner told us a "bedtime story," entirely appropriate for a class of nontraditional students who were just finishing class at 9:30 p.m. (It was a story about monkeys, which I will save for another day.)

We reported the senior partner's story with such enthusiasm that our professor promised to tell us a story of his own the last night of class. Sure enough, on the last night, after the exam review, we all settled back in our seats and he told us a story about lions.

When the pride of lions goes hunting, he said, the young lions do all the chasing and killing, tiring themselves out and risking injury if the prey puts up a fight. Even though the old lions haven't done much to help, they share the food, because the old lions have one important thing to contribute. (I have no idea if this is actually true, but as a story, it works.)

Say the pride spots a herd of antelope. The young lions hide in the bushes and wait. The old lions circle around to the other side of the herd and then begin to make a terrible roar. They are old and slow and creaky and toothless, but they can still make a fearsome noise. And the antelope get scared and run away from the old lions, right into the sharp teeth and claws of the young, strong lions. The moral of the story is: Run toward the roar.

I heard another version of this story at a business lecture the other night. The speaker's first job was as a meter reader for the city. This was a great job except for one thing: he was afraid of dogs. Not a good phobia for a meter reader! On his first day on the job, he asked a very experienced coworker how to cope with any fierce dogs on his route. The coworker told him that when he encountered a barking dog, he should walk toward the dog. He said nine times out of ten, the dog would back down, and the tenth dog would bite him.

Other details from the lecture have faded, but that story stands out clear as can be, and so does the lion story. Funny how that works. Guess I'm still an English major at heart.

1 comment:

  1. I don't care what they say. I'm running AWAY from the roar, no matter what.


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