You’ve probably heard that old parable about the Native American grandfather who is talking to his grandson. He tells the boy that there are two wolves inside each and every one of us, a light wolf and a dark wolf. They regularly do battle inside a person’s heart. The boy asks, “Which one is stronger, Grandfather?” The elder man replies, “The one you feed.”
I’ve been thinking about this story a lot lately, as I have been wrestling with my inner wolves and trying to decide which one to feed. The obvious answer should be the “Light wolf”, because that would seem to be logical if I want the “Light” to win. But life is not always as clear cut as black and white, good and evil, light and dark. There are always those damned infinite shades of grey…
We always have a choice which wolf to feed, but I’ve also found that the Dark wolf tends to be cunning – it can snatch the food from the Light wolf without us even ever being aware of it. It’s possible to subconsciously feed the Dark wolf and it gets stronger.
I’m using the analogy regarding behavior. Behavior gets reinforced by the choices we make, most of the time. But there are also behaviors which are so ingrained and so…’internalized’, for lack of a better word, that they are subconscious – they can become a habit, and before you know it, you’re back to repeating the same mistakes and doing the same negative behavior almost without realizing it.
The problem comes when you recognize it for what it is, and yet still feel compelled toward the negative behavior anyway. This is where I am at the moment. I can see how feeding the Dark wolf would just be reinforcing behavior I have worked very hard to overcome. But, at the same time, by feeding it, I will get answers to something I want very desperately to know.
I don’t do well with unresolved problems – they fester inside and eventually drive me batshit. So I usually find a way to solve the problem. This time, I know the way to solve the problem, but it involves feeding that Dark wolf. If the end result is peace of mind, can it be justified? Do the ends ever justify the means? I recently told a good friend that people (myself included) are very good at justifying something if they want it badly enough…and if you have to justify it, it’s probably not something you should be doing in the first place. I whole-heartedly believe this.
My intention is good – set my mind at peace and move past it by granting myself knowledge. The action to get that knowledge is not good. Which is more important – right intention or right action? In all my studies, they are equally important. But I am still conflicted. Perhaps the feeling will subside in awhile, although I know better. For me, anyway, it sure does seem like the wolf you starve is the one that howls the loudest, and as perverse as that is, I don’t know why that should be the case.
Have you ever been so conflicted? How did you decide which wolf to feed?