How are you as this new month arrives? Although its raining today at Lake Beseck, the promise of summer has already lifted our hearts and opened the windows. Time to pause and reflect…
Years ago, I was given this little story and subsequently shared it with others. It offers a piece of wisdom that makes sense.
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me…it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, generosity, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you and every other person too.”
They thought about that for a moment, when one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The grandfather looked his grandchild in the eyes and said, “The one you feed.”
And that is the end of the traditional story. We hear it and nod our heads, don’t we? We think, “Yes, I am invited to embrace the good in myself and stop ‘feeding’ the bad that is within me.” We nod our heads and move forward in our lives, believing we follow the better path.
But these days I find the story incomplete, for it leaves out another option. It leaves out a fuller understanding of our complex humanity. For me, that which we reject – our pride or guilt or sadness or even anger – is not a flaw to be eliminated. It is evidence of wounds. It is a form of coping with life’s challenges.
To reach our fullness as human beings we are invited to move out of the either/or mentality, of choosing between these wolves. Instead, we are invited to adopt the both/and point of view. We are invited to embrace all of ourselves, for we are creatures of both joy and fear, both hope and envy, both empathy and guilt.
Another option? Do not starve the second wolf, instead offer it the sweet milk of compassion. Help it find a new way to be understood and heard. Listen to the wolf’s cries, and even its growls, and provide a soothing touch to calm its pain. Life is not a tale of win or lose, but of healing and hope.
Trust the wisdom found in the fullness of life. Trust the wisdom found in yourself.
with love, Lisa