The Tiger Hunter: Finding the Courage to Make Choices for Yourself

Illustration of man hunting deer with bowI created this sad story many years ago to remind people that continually reflecting, updating, and assessing one’s values, actions, and beliefs is vital for one’s happiness and well-being.

I hope you enjoy this story.

The Tiger Hunter

There was a village in which only the best hunters lived. It was known by people of all lands as the Hunter Village.

In this village, a person’s value was judged by what this person had caught or killed, and the most prized prey was the tiger. Those very few who had killed a tiger were most respected and lived an affluent life. Being able to kill a tiger, therefore, was the most prominent aspiration and goal for all kinds in this village.

Among the villagers, there was a couple, a Master Hunter couple, who had killed four tigers. They were revered greatly by the villagers.

The couple had a child, Na. Ever since Na was born, the couple taught Na everything they knew to ensure that Na would become the best hunter, kill tigers, and live a respected and affluent life.

Na became the best hunter the village had ever seen.

But the true test of Na’s worthiness and skills was the first tiger-hunting trip. Every young hunter had to go to the Sa Mountain alone to hunt tigers on the day of his or her 18th birthday. In the past 20 years, no one had succeeded. The whole village hoped that Na would change the bad luck and maintain the Hunter Village’s name.

That day came.

Na packed everything and went to the Sa Mountain. Na had the best awareness, skills, tools, and knowledge.

Na found the perfect spot and waited.

“If a tiger shows up, I know I will kill it. Then I can prove my worthiness, and I can save my village’s name.”

Na waited.

A phoenix flew by. Na looked at the phoenix, and did nothing. “Get away!” Na shooed the phoenix away, it was not a tiger.

Then a dragon walked by, slowly. Na took a look at the dragon, “This is NOT a tiger.” Na shooed the dragon away. Na remembered that the village elders said, “Killing a tiger is the only way to prove your worthiness.” Na knew that taking this unseen animal back to the village would make Na the laughing stock. “What is this?! Only tiger is worthy.”

Na continued waiting.

A goose stopped by and laid a golden egg in front of Na. Na was annoyed by the goose, “I am here to hunt tiger!” Na shooed away the goose, “you are blocking my view.”

For days, Na waited, waited, and waited for a tiger, for this was the only opportunity to prove Na’s skills, to honor Na’s parents, and to be respected by the villagers. “Just one tiger, just one.”

Na encountered many different creatures, but all of them were chased away, for they were no tiger.

Finally, Na had to leave the mountain and go back home. Na’s time was up.

Na went back home empty-handed. Na did not catch or kill a tiger.

People in the Hunter Village decided Na was a failure. Na’s parents kicked Na out of the house.

For the rest of Na’s life, Na continued searching for a tiger, to prove Na’s worthiness and to earn respect from other villagers.

A review of the historical record revealed that Na’s parents killed the last of the tigers in that region.

Some questions I ask people, after telling this story, include:

  • What is your “tiger” that you did not choose to value, but valued it anyway because everyone else said you should?
  • How many times have you focused on the tiger and missed the phoenix?
  • What if Na was born in another village, in which riding a dragon was considered the bravest thing to do? What should Na do?

Cultures impact us in so many different ways, and continual reflecting (“is this what I really want or what the culture dictates for me?”), updating (“this worked before, but does this work for me and for the current context?”), and assessing our values, beliefs, and behaviors are essential for self-understanding and living to our full potential.

Here is a personal example. When I was a kid, I was told my full lips were ugly, and I was instructed to hide my lips. I was instructed to avoid talking, so my lips would not show. For years, I believed this and tried very hard to hide my full lips and felt that my full lips made my family lose face.

Then I moved to the United States, and Angelina Jolie became a sex symbol. All of the sudden, people endured pain and spent money to make their lips fuller. The sales representative in the cosmetic counters could not stop admiring my full lips, “Few Asian Americans have full lips like you, you are so lucky!”

I wish you the wisdom to recognize your “tigers” and make your own choices. Making your own choices takes strength, courage, and wisdom. Enjoy the journey and know that, when you do not focus on killing a tiger, you will see all the other animals.

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Gage

    May 24th, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    If you think about it this is something that all of has experienced at one time or another. We have at some point chased after something that was not our dream but anothers’ goals for us, only to find ourselves and them disappointed when we did not meet their standards. I am not willing to set my own child up for failure over something that I have made unattainable thru my own actions .

  • lance

    May 25th, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    dreams dashed
    all for trying to achieve the unachievable
    that quest for perfection tearing famileis apart
    this sounds like it could either be an ancient story
    or one right out of today’s headlines
    funny how the story sometimes changes but ultimately the themes always remain the same

  • Focus

    May 26th, 2012 at 1:18 AM

    Focus is good in life.Keeping an eye on your target, your goal, is always a great thing to do. But giving so much importance to one thing while ignoring the others is just unwise.

    A great story here and I am definitely sharing this. It teaches us a lot about life.

  • Cheyenne V

    May 26th, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Just can’t imagine ever doing something so disappointing to my parents that they would never have anything to do with me again.

  • tobias

    May 28th, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    There are certainly some world cultures that this would resonate very heavily within.
    I have seen those parents who place all of their ideals and expectations upon the shoulders of their children, and when the child “fails” they see that as a failure that shames everyone.
    I like to teach my own children that failure is not a disappointment, just another chance to learn a life lesson.
    It’s too bad really that not every parent can view life in that way.

  • Wei-chien

    May 30th, 2012 at 12:22 PM


    Exactly. I think as soon as we recognize that the world we see is different from the world our children see, our children will have more opportunities to create their own future.

    Many of today’s positions did not exist twenty yeas ago…

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  • Wei-chien

    May 30th, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Dear Lance,

    Thank you for sharing your observation. Yes, the theme of “using outdated, invalid, and unfit expectations to measure another person” is everywhere…

  • Wei-chien

    May 30th, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Dear Focus,

    I totally agree — focus is great, but tunnel vision and close-minded hurts.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and thank for sharing this story. :-)

  • Wei-chien

    May 30th, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Dear Cheyenne V,

    Very true, it is challenging to imaging that — I wish this was just a sad story from a time that no one remembers.

    However, I have seen many people being cut off, shunned, ridiculed, or discriminated for so many different reasons by their families and relatives. It is very sad. I appreciate the confident and trust your parents have instilled in your relationship.

  • Wei-chien

    May 30th, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Dear Tobias,

    I appreciate your sharing. “Failure” is discouraging (because we often do not want people we care feel hurt and sad), but never a disappointment. As long as we are 1 inches higher when we pick ourselves up from the floor. :-) Thank you.

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