So I was watching the new season of Luke Cage last night and, while being interrogated by the one-armed detective, a low-level hood recounted an old Cherokee legend. (Trust me, that sentence makes more sense to me than it does to you.) And it got me thinking. The legend is about two wolves:
A grandson came to his grandfather, angry over an injustice done to him by a friend. The Grandfather sat his grandson down and said to him:
'I too, at times, have felt great hate. There are many who take so much yet feel no remorse for the hurt they cause. But hate wears you down. It is like taking a poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many, many times.
'It is like there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and takes no offense when none was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so and in the right way.
'But the other wolf! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him off. He fights anyone all the time for whatever reason. He cannot think because his hate and anger cloud his thoughts. But it is a helpless anger because it helps nothing.
'Sometimes, it is difficult to live with these two wolves within me, each fighting for control.'
'Which wolf is stronger?' the grandson asked.
The grandfather smiled and replied 'Whichever one I feed.'
One half of my social media feed consists of people who refuse to turn on the news these days. Too much hatred. Too many horrible things happening. Thankfully, the other half is filled with people celebrating love (this being Pride month definitely helps). Anger and love. Dark and light. Night and day. If you've read anything of mine, you've probably noticed that this balance is a recurring theme. I am fascinated with walking that tightrope between doing what's right and doing what's wrong. Some days I eat carrots, some days I eat cookies. Most days I eat both.
Feeding one wolf instead of the other, though. That is a beautiful way to describe our competing instincts. A wolf is primal and strong and relentless. The wolf has always been a source of wonder and fear, watching us from the edge of the woods, eyes glinting in reflected firelight as we huddle around the fire for protection and warmth.
A wolf cannot be denied.
Nor can our instincts. The wolf of anger is a part of us just as much as the wolf of love. I feed one more than the other but that does not mean I don't acknowledge the other. It exists. It is a part of me. And let's be honest, sometimes it needs to run free too. But that wolf does not help me, does not make my life better. I need to remember that when I'm wronged. I need to get better at keeping that wolf on a short leash. My other wolf, my wolf of love and compassion, is stronger. She will guide me. If only I listen.