Feeding The Wolves Within

There is an old Native American parable about the two wolves we have within us all. The two wolves represent the darkness and the light. And each day we get to choose which of the wolves we feed. We feed the wolves with our thoughts, emotions and actions. This in turn determines which wolf grows. I consciously considered which wolf I was feeding with my mental state when I went see the movie “Logan” with a good friend.

I’m terrified of making commitments. I’ve been chronically ill for almost three decades now. In that time I’ve made and backed out of hundreds of opportunities to do stuff with friends and family. And this was always to my detriment. I would bail because I was in pain, tired or just emotionally in a dark place. The Dark Wolf was being fed a lot back then. Even now when I make plans it’s a big deal for me and which wolf will be fed is not a certainty.

Even before I made the plans I was feeding the wrong wolf with negative emotions. I was going through the normal bullshit of “I’ll bail”, “I’ll feel like shit and not have fun”, or “I’ll have to leave the movie because I’ll get sick and ruin it for him”…and so on and so on. The Dark Wolf fed heartily on these negative emotions. After deliberating for a few days I finally did suggest that we meet to go see the movie and he agreed. That was the first hurtle.

The next step was to finalize the plans – What time and where? I suggested a time and a place and he countered with a different movie theater than I had first considered and I wasn’t really thrilled with the choice due to the location. Again I was vacillating between feeding the diametrically opposed wolves within. As we are going back and forth with texting – which really was only a brief exchange I became anxious because I get all knotted up inside when I have to wait for someone to respond to a text. I know its stupid but it’s something that happens. And my Dark Wolf fucking loves to feed on anxiety, that’s his second favorite food behind feasting on self-hatred. I was able to put aside the fact we were going to a different theatre and I actually made the best of it by suggesting we grab dinner at an Italian joint I’ve not eaten at in a while. Turning a situation to the good is food the White Wolf devours.

I get to the theatre right on time. It’s packed and again alarm bells go off – I’m not a fan of crowds. The Dark Wolf is salivating over what emotions and thoughts which are bubbling up in my mind. I get to the theatre and park just in time before the movie starts and my friend isn’t there. I wait some more. It’s now ten minutes. And my first thought is this is why I don’t make plans. I would just rather do stuff alone. That is what I normally do because I feel that I’m so unreliable anyway. Again the Dark Wolf wolfed down these negative thoughts and emotions. My friend then texted and said he’d be five minutes due to traffic. Then it was ten and finally after fifteen minutes I stopped allowing the negative emotions and thoughts to occur.

Instead of standing there doing nothing except indulging my Dark Wolf in his favorite foods. I took the time to edit a previous blog post as I waited and I began to relax and actually enjoy myself. I could feel the Dark Wolf slink back into the recesses of my mind. The White Wolf was now being fed steadily and was strong enough to chase him away. I thought I’ll make the most of it and in the end it’s just a movie.
I was inside waiting and then I had to go outside to meet him and then we had to wait in line to show the ticket guy our electronic tickets. Again the Dark Wolf poked his head out of the long grass in my consciousness but he had nothing to eat. I kept thinking “it’s okay, I’m really excited to see the movie and I’ll catch the beginning when I buy it”. Then we went and got some waters and found screen number 12 showing “Logan”. By now I didn’t care about time because what’s the difference between twenty minutes or twenty five minutes late, it didn’t matter at all.

At the number 12 screen a huge line had formed. One person in line told us the showtime had been pushed back. We hadn’t missed anything. All of those anxieties and doubts and self-recriminations and dredging up ancient negative memories was a total waste of time. But in the end of that scenario I had fed the White Wolf more than the Dark Wolf and I think that sums up what all the philosophies and the religions are attempting to teach us. Which can be summed up with : each day we all have a choice of which wolf we are going to feed. Negative emotions like jealousy, hatred, fear and self doubt feed the Dark Wolf. And positive emotions like Love, peace, hope and gratitude feed the White Wolf. 

The question I ask myself each morning is “Which wolf gets fed today?”.

Brad Miller

Fellow Human 

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