The Wolf is at the Door

wolves.jpgGrandmother sat outside, as she was wont to do every day.

She saw her granddaughter walking toward her, and she noticed the young girl seemed angry.

She was kicking the dirt, and Grandmother could see there were streaks of tears running down her face.

Granddaughter did not pay any attention to where she was; she was lost in her own thoughts.  She threw a rock as hard as she could, gave out an anguished howl, and continued walking.

Grandmother called out and finally got the attention of her granddaughter, who walked over toward her.  Grandmother said, "Sit down and tell me what has happened."

Granddaughter began to tell the story.

On this day it was her birthday and she received as a present from her parents a knife.  She was very happy with her present and showed it to the other children.  Some of them thought this present should not have been given, they thought her too young, they envied her present, and they started to taunt her.  Soon, a shoving match started, and then a full on fight, during which the knife was taken.

"Grandmother, I hate them!" said granddaughter.

"Mmm," Grandmother pondered this.  Then she said, "I too have had this inside of me. Let me tell you a story."

Granddaughter was in no mood for one these stories, they were always long and Grandmother always wanted to teach something.  Granddaughter wanted to fight, she wanted to be angry, and she wanted to find an outlet for her anger.

Grandmother insisted. "Sit,” she said. This story won't take long and it is a story about me when I was your age and felt these same things."

This was something the girl did not hear often, stories about when her Grandmother was a girl.  So she sat.

"I have had something living inside of me my whole life," Grandmother began. "I discovered them when I was your age and went to speak with my mother and her mother."

"You see, I know I have two wolves that live in my heart and in my head. They live inside of me in my soul.  One of these wolves is a white wolf, and she is a seeker of beauty and harmony, she loves balance and peaceful contentedness, and she will fight if it is the only way, but she often knows there are many ways, many solutions to problems."

"Next to her is a black wolf," she continued. "And she is angry most of the time, she seeks vengeance, and will look first to fight.  She lives with jealousy and envy inside of her, she judges everything and has little respect."

Granddaughter was captivated by this story, and asked, "Why doesn't the black wolf kill the white wolf?"

"This is a good question," Grandmother smiled. "The two wolves live inside of me and are chained at the neck together, not too close, but close enough to both circle each other and keep their distance.  They must be very vigilant and so must I."

Granddaughter reflected on this, and how she felt when her knife was taken and she got into a fight.  She could feel his anger disappearing, but she was still puzzled by something.

"Grandmother, I don't understand.  If these two wolves live inside of you, and you are saying they are inside of me too, which one wins?"

Grandmother smiled, "This is also a good question."

Looking directly into her granddaughter's eyes, she said, "The one I feed."

Susan notes: the story above is what I believe to be an old Cherokee parable. This version was kindly suggested by @Kelleengriffin, (thanks so much Kelleen!), and is certainly more beautiful and more deeply meaningful than the much-abbreviated piece which I posted originally (below). I  modified both versions by changing the gender of the characters, just as I do with all the similar stories I post.

Here is the one I first posted:

One evening an old Cherokee woman, one of many amazing women in her tribe, told her granddaughter a story about a battle that goes on inside all of us.

"My child," she said, "the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One wolf is Evil..."

It is the wolf of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

She paused, then went on slowly: "The other wolf is Good. It is the wolf of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The granddaughter thought about it for a minute, then asked her grandmother: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee woman replied simply: "The one you feed."

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