Recently I was lucky enough to see a very dear friend, just for a morning, as she prepared to fly home after a whistlestop visit to Dubai.
Seeing people who have known you for decades is always refreshing, it is as if the layers of pretence, the masks of disguise and the trappings of who you profess to be all fall away. They just see the younger more idealistic you, but older. It was so refreshing…
One lasting memory from her visit was how she spoke about the assembly that she had done for interview she had recently had. It was based on a native American tale of an elder who spoke of ‘The Two Wolves’ and went something like this… from memory and with a Kate flourish here or there
The Two Wolves Within You
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
“Every morning I wake up, grateful for the air I breathe, the sky above me, the ground below me. I am grateful for my family, for my community and for the life that I lead.
But everyday, I also feel conflict. It is as though there fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves, they are huge and fill my mind. One is evil–he is dark and grey with bitter breath, he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is white and light hearted, he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
I see them fight, I feel them battle, every day, every moment I am not sure which will win…. “
“The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
What does it mean?
This week in particular I have met people who are are clearly feeding either one wolf or the other.
The contrast has been so stark between the warmth in conversation, the kindness of a word choice, the follow up message to say thank you or goodbye..
The negative emotion, the judgemental tone, the jealous comments or the unkind snipe in reply..
Times like these, when you are absolutely at your most stressed and vulnerable. When you are leaving all that you know and that has previously defined you for the great unknown, when you are putting your three children to sleep and someone turns up an hour late, ringing the dooebell and waking everyone, just to collect something you need to sell (to fund your life ahead) then judges you for thes price, or the used state, or tries to renegotiate on the step … this is when I am most aware that my battle is taking place.
How do I want to respond?
What role model do I want to be for my children?
How can I ensure that the white wolf wins in my own mind, when clearly the dark wolf is winning in theirs?
I remember all the positive people in my life. All the people who ensure their white wolf wins… I remember:
– the friend who babysat your kids so you could take your husband with you to clear your office knowing how upsetting and challenging it would be.
You remember the colleague who read your blog and reached out to offer a shopudler to cry on and an ear to listen as she knew that talking is the best therapy.
You remember the lady who took a photo of one of your treasured possessions in its’ new home in her house, telling you it would be loved and cared for.
And you know that you will feed your white wolf, will smile, say thank you for the feedback, I think we will let this go to someone else, and remove them from your home. You will read your children their books, kiss them goodnight and know that tomorrow is another day, another battle, but that you have the power to keep feeding the wolf you want to win.
Thanks Kathryn for the tale, the moral and the reminder.. it was so good to see you.