I remember just last year, I would hate the person I saw in my reflection. I saw her eyes of sorrow and pain but that didn’t matter to me because of what pain she had caused others. I saw how much she was struggling to keep her mask on her face but I only laughed, thinking “you deserve to struggle, to be in pain.” I saw her, for the demons inside her.
I was thrilled when I read quote, a conversation between an old Cherokee and his grandson. It read:
“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.”
I was thrilled…because, it meant, I could also have goodness inside me while possessing all the flaws I saw in myself. I could still do good. I could still be good.
I continued reading:
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
You might heard the story ends like this: The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “If you feed them right, they both win.” and the story goes on:
“You see, if I only choose to feed the white wolf, the black one will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and always fighting the white wolf. But if I acknowledge him, he is happy and the white wolf is happy and we all win. For the black wolf has many qualities – tenacity, courage, fearlessness, strong-willed and great strategic thinking – that I have need of at times and that the white wolf lacks. But the white wolf has compassion, caring, strength and the ability to recognize what is in the best interest of all.
“You see, son, the white wolf needs the black wolf at his side. To feed only one would starve the other and they will become uncontrollable. To feed and care for both means they will serve you well and do nothing that is not a part of something greater, something good, something of life. Feed them both and there will be no more internal struggle for your attention. And when there is no battle inside, you can listen to the voices of deeper knowing that will guide you in choosing what is right in every circumstance. Peace, my son, is the Cherokee mission in life. A man or a woman who has peace inside has everything. A man or a woman who is pulled apart by the war inside him or her has nothing.
“How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other, or guide them both.”
In summary: We all have a yin to match our yang, within us. We all have the darker side of us that balances out the good that shines. We all have two wolves battling an invisible war within us, where the winner is dependent on which one you feed.
Back then, I didn’t truly understand that. I knew I could mean well; I knew I could be a good person, but that never seemed to matter when I was judging myself. I only focused on how much I had sinned, how much I had done wrong. And, without knowing, with time I ended up neglecting my ‘yang’.
I hated myself. In the mirror, I saw the girl who had made countless of mistakes, hurt countless of people, and fell down countless of times. I saw the girl who was more stubborn than people could handle. I saw the girl who never knew when to back down or to give up when something was wrong. I saw the girl who cried, who was confused, who didn’t know who she was. I saw the girl who took actions on impulses, was reckless and a little bit too fearless, and a little too strong for her own good. I saw the girl who was hurting, who was in pain…and that was the most important thing I saw in myself. Because I could see I was hurting, because I could see how much I had gone through, that opened the door for me to see how far I’ve come and how strong I truly am…because one has to eventually heal and mend after being broken, right?
Today, I look into the mirror and see that girl still. I see the girl who has fallen down so, so many times. I see the girl who has made hundreds of horrible mistakes. I see the girl who is strong-willed. I see the girl who is courageous at times, and stubborn at others. I see the girl who has a little spark of ‘yin’ in her eyes. But I also have learned to see the girl who has survived everything that was meant to break her down. I see the girl who is compassionate. I see the girl who is intelligent. I see the girl who is loving and empathic….and, most importantly, who has the spark of ‘yang’ living in her eyes. I see the girl who has done a lot of good. I see the girl who makes people smile, who makes people’s days. I see the girl who has come so far from where she used to be.
I admit, the wolf getting full off of envy, sorry, regret, and self-pity is still being fed. But, I’ll admit, the wolf getting full off of empathy, generosity, compassion, and faith is being fed too. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.