There is a Cherokee teaching I had heard a while back and was recently reminded of again. It could fall under the parable umbrella if you like. But being of Cherokee heritage, I can almost imagine my ancestor’s reciting this very life lesson to me as I ask them for advice. Picture it … close your eyes and you can be there with me.
Sitting around an open campfire, the night silent except for the occasional coyote howling in the distance, settling in for a night under the stars, the smell of the campfire. My ancestors see the troubled look on my face as I stare into the fire. They ask me what is wrong. I answer: I feel so out of sorts with my writing lately. What if it is just a stupid dream? How will I ever get to where I want to be? Maybe it’s just shit. I feel like there is such a battle going on within me. The wisest of them surrounding me smiles, thinks for a second, then recounts a story to me. (edited to include myself)
“There is a terrible fight inside and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This fight is what is inside of you – and every other person as well.”
I looked away from the blaze and into the old man’s eyes. He waited while I thought about what he had said. I broke the silence with one simple question: “Which wolf will win?”
Without hesitation, the old man said: “The one you feed.”
Think about that for a second. The type of person you are depends on the type of personality you ‘feed’. That hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe this whole time I have been feeding the wrong wolf.
I know there are a lot of self-help idealisms out there. And I make no claim to be one of those people. I don’t have all the answers … hell, I barely have any. But believe me when I say I have been thinking about this all day. Maybe it is time to figure out which wolf we are feeding and make sure it is the one that will help us be better … people.
In my life, my writing is very important to me. Lately I have been struggling with self-worth in that arena. I have been feeding the wrong wolf. Time to let that son-of-a-bitch starve. From here on out, I am feeding the one that will make me a better person and better writer.
What about you?