I start with the story we shared in our last group of 2014-2015 year.
The Wolves Within
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice . . . “Let me tell you a story. I too at times, have felt great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It’s like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.
“I have struggled with these feelings many times.
“It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But . . . the other wolf . . . ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
“Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
— A Native American tale told many times around the Sacred Fire.
At the close of this year, I am thinking a lot about what we feed one another through our shared writing practice. Almost all of us wrote about how there are often not just two wolves, but many, an entire pantheon howling as we each set out to do anything: make a decision, form a relationship, recover from addictions, write.
How do we begin? One woman wrote of her many wolves and how to love all of them, spoke of a radical acceptance of what is present within her before she decides which to feed. To her, there is potential and wisdom in each one, something to fuel her growth and expression.
The greatest gift I have received in this work is how I feel fed by it. This group of writers is generous, holding space for each writer and celebrating his or her growth, his or her discoveries, empathizing with his or her struggles. My greatest hope is that when we sit down, we all feel that, that we have built a powerful community that can nourish all of us, nourish the wolves that are hungry for expression without judgment. Here, we begin with ourselves and each other, our shared practice as a starting place for the first day of the rest of our journeys.
I end with our shared words, the found poem from our last writing group.
To the Many Wolves Within
I feel our song deep within my bones.
You sing lullabies.
Don’t bother trying to be quiet.
I am whole once again.
Oh my wolves, I know what I want.
Strong enough not to give in,
we feed when needed.
Life is delicious.
I was lost. My body rattled—
the poison was beautiful,
a mother of pearl, the things I craved.
Cold streets, empty nights,
torn within myself about myself,
on a battlefield unsure of what side I’m on,
the middle ground of my very soul.
The wise wolf’s work never late to be done.
Build on the dreams we once knocked down.
Counts the hairs that stand up.
Live within the power.
There’s nothing wrong with silence.
I struggle every day,
put the past in the past.
Oh my wolves bring me
joy and hope and love.
All we share is good:
one deep inhalation.
I survived my worst self.
my wolves bare horns and halos.
Survivor, the one I feed.
I won the battle,
contentment that is mountainous,
love in my heart.