Among the birch trees of Siberia, or perhaps in a Bengali mangrove forest, a starving, pregnant tigress pounces upon a small herd of goats. The goats bleat wildly and scatter in four directions. The poor tigress’ exertion does not result in a meal, but rather a premature birth, and her own death.
Eventually, the goats return to their hollow, inevitably coming upon the little baby tiger. The goats began raising the cub as one of their own, teaching him to graze on grass and bleat like a baby goat, until the tiger believes himself to be a goat.
Months go by, and while the tiger grows into a young juvenile, he is malnourished and weak. Soon, another tiger pounces on the flock. The goats, used to tiger antics, scatter like before, leaving the little tiger to sit in the grass with a mouthful of leaves.
“What’s this?” The tiger asked. “A tiger cub eating grass?”
“Baaaaah.” Said the young tiger.
So the tiger takes the cub by the scruff and marches to a nearby pond. They peer into the pool together and the tiger says, “Look! You’re not a goat, you’re a tiger like me.”
Next, he takes him to his lair where there are the remains of a recent kill. The tiger says, “Eat!” The little tiger bleats and says, “I’m a vegetarian!” The big tiger will not take no for an answer, however, and he opens the little tiger’s mouth and shoves the meat in.
The little tiger gags at first, as sometimes self-knowledge can be hard to swallow. But once the meat is in his gut and in his blood, the young tiger does a little tiger stretch, and then roars a little tiger roar.
“There, now you’ve got it!” says the adult. “Now go into the forest and eat tiger food!”
* * * * * * * * * * *
What is Tiger Food?
Tiger Food is about finding your authentic self and nourishing it.
I first heard this story told by Joseph Campbell when I was just beginning my own journey toward acknowledging my authentic self - that I was an artist, and there was no other way of being possible for me. I recognized that to be genuinely true to my character I must nourish myself. It was about this time that I was exposed to the idea of working with text and image. I suddenly saw that my love of illustration, literature, and storytelling could marry together in an art form that harmonized with how I wanted to communicate. Book arts, printing, graphic arts, and investigating narrative were my Tiger Food.