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Two Tigers, Two Mice, and a Strawberry

Two Tigers, Two Mice, and a Strawberry (2011) for saxophone quartet

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The following story is attributed to the Buddha:

“Once, a man was walking through the forest when he encountered a tiger. The tiger pursued him to the edge of a cliff. The man grabbed a vine and swung himself over the edge, only to find another tiger waiting for him at the bottom of the cliff. Upon considering his predicament, two mice, one white and one black, crawled out from holes in the cliff and began to gnaw at the vine. There was a wild strawberry growing on the edge of the cliff beside the man. He plucked it up and ate it. How sweet it tasted!”

This story, rich in imagery, points to the impermanent nature of life. I believe that the two tigers represent birth and death, and the two mice are references to yin and yang, the cyclical forces keep the universe in motion. The strawberry represents how recognizing impermanence opens our eyes to the beauty of the world around us.

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