I had my first wave of winter dread earlier than usual this year and decided to discuss it with a spiritual/intuitive coach of mine. She reminded me of a story from the Cherokee Indian tradition that I had heard long ago, but had completely forgotten.
The Two Wolves
(Anonymous from the Native American Tradition)
An old grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with raging anger at a friend, “I, too, have felt great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison into your own body and wishing your enemy would suffer and die. It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is kind and understanding and does no harm; it works to benefit the entire pack. He lives in harmony with all around and does not take offense or plot revenge. His heart is open and available to the Great Spirit. The other wolf is always vengeful, vicious and full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone for no reason. He kills without cause or remorse. He cannot think because his resentment, anger and hate are so great. His heart is closed to the Great Spirit. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me. Both of them try to dominate my Spirit.”
The boy looked with amazement into this wise man’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The grandfather smiled and said, “The one that wins― is the one I feed.”
Wham, bam, thank ya Ma’am. Clarity. This beautiful and brilliant story is obviously about so much more than the refusal to let go of a personal snowy season victim story, and it applies to any and every area of life. The Light Wolf and the Dark Wolf (also referred to as the Light Self and the Shadow Self, the Higher Self and the Lower Self, the Human Self and the Spiritual Self, the Grown-up Self and the Big, Fat Baby Self – take your pick) we all have them, which one do we feed? Where do we direct our thoughts, feelings and attention?
Take some time to look at your two wolves and get deep-down-dirty-raw and honest about which one you are feeding. And how you are feeding it. And why you are feeding it. What are you afraid of? What are you avoiding or hiding from? What or who are you blaming or angry at? What are you addicted to? Where are your attachments? In what areas are you needing to grant yourself freedom?
I have gotten very good at recognizing my victim stories, both large and small, and this year, at long last, I have been able to let most of them go. Talk about miracle of miracles. There are still those that I am working my way through and to the other side of, and it is being done consciously and deliberately. I don’t believe in being a victim and I really do refuse to live my life from that place any longer. I can write about it, speak about it, coach others through it, kick ass at it personally and then turn around, sit down and write the Queen of Victimlandia opening paragraph to this post. Barf.
Being human – welcome to it.
Winter happens every single year. Every year it gets cold. Every year it snows and every year that beautiful white snow turns into piles of greasy, dirty, grey poop. Every year the sky vanishes, taking with it the fresh air, and inversion presses down on us. Every year winter lasts far longer than I would like it to. But it happens every year whether I enjoy it or not. I learned long ago that it is exhausting and futile to raise my fists, scream at the heavens and argue with What Is. What Is simply is What Is.
And, right now, What Is is that winter is coming. Which wolf am I going to feed? No question. It will NOT be the one that gnaws on its own ankle in a dark corner gorging on bitterness, complaints and off the charts depression. It will be the wolf who has learned how to pack her bags and move out of Victimlandia and knows, without a doubt, that she can, and somehow will, experience winter as…yes…a miraculous adventure cake covered in sparkling, creamy, white newness.
She’s going to feast on as many cozy, candlelit snuggles in the arms of a wonderful man, movies, happy music, laughter, girl’s night parties, Sex and the City episodes, chocolate, hot adult beverages, snowball fights and bubble baths as possible. I promise you that puppy is going to be fat, happy and, most definitely, well-fed.