Geng Ying, a master archer of the Warring States era, impressed the King of Wei with his unparalleled skill. He confidently asserted that he could bring down a bird with just the twang of his bow, a claim met with skepticism by the king. However, when a solitary swan goose, already wounded and mournful, flew overhead, Geng Ying swiftly drew his bow. The resounding twang echoed through the air, and the bird plummeted to the ground. Explaining his feat, Geng Ying noted that the bird’s existing injury and sorrow left it vulnerable to the startling sound of his bowstring.

This event gave birth to the idiom “A bird startled by the mere twang of a bow-string,” serving as a metaphor for how prior experiences of fear or trauma can leave individuals susceptible to new challenges. It underscores the notion that familiarity with one type of threat may not prepare us for unexpected dangers.

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