For the last week or so we’ve been working on our family mission statement. Yeah, there. Go and laugh :D Sounds awfully corporate and blah-blah, eh? I know. I will write more about the process in the near future, as it has been fascinating and eye-opening for all of us. On top of having the mission/ purpose statement I wanted to have an overarching motto, something that we can easily refer to in difficult moments. And it just jumped at me this Sunday when one of my friends shared an article from a Polish magazine. It re-tells the old Cherokee legend of two wolfs.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I got excited and told this story to Hannu and Ingrid (Alvar didn’t seem to care, busy demolishing my bookshelf). Hannu liked it, but Ingrid immediately asked what happens to the black wolf. Caught me off guard, of course. Kids are gifted like that. I was a bit like “hmmm…. ummm…. I don’t know… He starves?”. Sad face. I tried to cheer her up: come on, it’s a good story! And he is not like a real, REAL wolf? Metaphor (uhm, good luck explaining that to a four year old)? Nope, no dice. It’s wrong. We cannot starve the poor black wolf! He needs food and hugs, no matter how nasty he appears to be. Oh. Bummer. There went my perfect motto. But after she said it like that it started to be that proverbial stone in the shoe and the story didn’t sit right with me anymore. Also, I don’t believe suppressing negative feelings helps in the long run. So we left it there.
I woke up the next morning and Ingrid’s words came back to me. The black wolf needs food and hugs. Of course he does! It works on so many levels. We need to feed the white wolf, so that he becomes strong. And we need to hug the black wolf so that he is not constantly hiding around every corner waiting for us to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he is looking for. Feed the white wolf, hug the black wolf.
Feeding the white wolf means actively bringing the good stuff into our lives. First and foremost taking care of our bodies. Sleeping a good night’s sleep. Eating good, nutritious, home-made food. Exercising daily. Getting out of the house for the sheer purpose of breathing fresh air and feeling it on our cheeks. And breathing it deeply. Inhale. Exhale. It means surrounding ourselves with people who care about us and love us. It means expressing gratitude for people in our life, for the simple joys and pleasures. It means exercising our minds- reading good books, learning new things, seeing new places. It means accepting who we are and accepting that we are enough. It means dreaming and making these dreams come true. It means following our distinctive voice and sharing it. It means helping others. It means staying in the present, looking for beauty, light and wonder in our lives. Actively looking, eyes, ears and minds open.
Hugging the black wolf is not easy, for he is a tricky beast. He will be angry and will not want to be hugged, kissed and embraced. He will try to slip away. But we must try. When we feel the anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority rising- we acknowledge it. Let it wash over. Find the center of that feeling, find the reason. Stand still, let the black wolf jump. Then slowly embrace him. He will struggle and will tell you are an idiot and wriggle away. Do not give up. Fight back with kindness. He will eventually cuddle in my lap and we can cry together. It will become easier to hug him as we go on about our life and complain less (not at all?). When we stop comparing, because comparison is the death of joy. When we don’t engage with people who bring us down. When we don’t gossip. When we hug out instead of lashing out to child experiencing melt-down.
And I think then both wolfs can leave in peace in harmony. Fed and hugged.
Gosh, my kid is smart. Love you honey :)
^ the b&w is from my Instagram feed. You can follow me here: karba