Lions are incredible animals. There’s a lot I learned from one specific lion whilst in India. The greatest lesson being that sitting still and observing is sometimes the best approach to chaos and crazy.
The first time I saw a Lion face to face (in memory) was South India two years ago. Accompanied in a zoo by my uncles, baby cousin and grandfather I looked with big eyes at the two large lions with a den the size of a truck split in two halves. Each side hosting one lion. The beasts were remarkable. Incredibly large. Every step they took showed off their powerful structures. The lion on the left was active, he moved in circles and roared as the den-keeper crept closer to the cage. The lion to the right, she laid palms down; relaxed. Young kids jeered at her and their hopes to provoke response were answered with a blank face. She’d get up every couple of minutes to stretch. This made clear her mass and power. And as she plopped back down, resting her head on her paws. Her eyes would return to that place..some place, deep in thought.
I looked her square in the eyes hoping to understand her. I went from not caring about her to feeling deep admiration.
Growing up I learned to fear lions for their strength, ability and power. In that moment I appreciated her for those same qualities. I respected her for the relaxed nature she carried while harnessing so much power within it. Her eyes told a story. With no foundation for this assumption, I thought they were filled with pain and trauma. Regardless of what anyone around her did she looked onwards. Deep in thought.
That lion was a stoic.
I choose to believe that that lion was thinking. I have no idea what that lion was thinking about, but I know that when I think about lions today my thought isn’t fear for myself or the anger that people wrongly project onto them. My mind wanders to the calmness and fortitude that I found within that lions eyes.
That lion caused me to think of a philosopher king. I felt connection. And when I see images of lions I still feel connection. I feel power, strength and foundation. If a beast that big who is capable of so much destruction can sit in stillness when all around is chaos I should have no trouble sitting still. Understanding myself in the moment.
Having strength doesn’t always mean displaying it. You can be incredibly powerful and sit still. You are still powerful. You can be incredibly capable and not act. You are still capable.
Not every action requires your reaction. Not every reaction has value.