One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson:
there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.
one is evil. it is anger, envy, arrogance, greed, self-pity and lies.
the other is good. it is love, peace, hope, joy, kindness and truth.
the grandson thought about it for a moment and then asked his grandfather:
which wolf wins?
the old Cherokee replied: the one you feed.
I admire this sentiment very much. It makes a great story, for one thing. For another, it contains a grain of truth.
But there are problems with it, and my strong Taoist leanings protest. I struggle with concepts of absolute good and absolute evil. Both exist, no doubt, but if there are two wolves in your heart, they are both part of you. And if you favor one, don’t you become lopsided, out of balance, denying part of yourself? Balance is something I always strive for. And anyone who knows me knows that the image of starving an animal (particularly a wolf) is not something I can promote, even a symbolic one.
There are two wolves inside me, yes, but I don’t believe they battle. They are complementary packmates: one is light and the other is shadow. Carl Jung said that you should get to know your Shadow, that it’s dangerous not to. My own Shadow Wolf is fearful, angry, reactive, stubborn, argumentative and judgmental. Heavy on the judgmental.
There are times my Shadow Wolf protects me and makes me strong. When she continues to worry a bone, she sometimes brings me to understanding and a truth of my own.
I’ve been involved recently in a conversation about positivity vs. negativity and which is the right way for me to live. I began by arguing for positivity, but I realize now that my definitions, and my mind, were too narrow. I’m lucky that I know dedicated critical thinkers who are willing to engage in the hard inner work of life and challenge me to do the same.
You do have a choice how you view the world; I haven’t changed my mind about that. My new guru, ET, says that if you are not approaching a situation with either acceptance, enjoyment or enthusiasm, then you should stop and stay out of the situation. If you go ahead into into it with negative feelings, then know that you are making a choice to suffer and to possibly cause others to suffer with your resistance, anger or whatever.
Negative emotions rise in all of us. Today, I realized that they can be there, but I don’t have to follow them. I can feel them, acknowledge them and watch them dissipate. The Shadow Wolf is with me, but she is not Me.
I embrace both of my wolves. I love my Shadow Wolf. I just try not to follow her very far down her path.
lie down inside me,
and devour this veil
that shrouds my heart
though it warms me,
it weighs me down.
this dark wolf
when i need light,