Which Wolf Do You Feed?

If this blog is partly about eating, let's talk about feeding feelings.

There's a story attributed to the Cherokee (but I don't know it actually came from that tribe*) that goes something like this:

A Cherokee Legend

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."

Super true. I have read this story many times during the past few years, but it really hit home last week.

September was a good month full of lots of changes--one of which was the good but hard choice to give up my business office for two reasons:

1) There were other people occupying the space and they had a culture going there, a lot of which involved loud conversations and often some vulgar language. Hey, I am all about some vulgar language from time to time. It has its place in life and when I was working independently in the office, it never bothered me--but not when I had clients in my office to talk about their personal lives and health concerns.

Uh-uh. Not okay.

2) There was also the issue of the dog. The landlord owns an enormous dog that is both friendly and possibly intimidating, depending on your comfort level with dogs. The dog liked to sleep in the open space outside my office and, because I didn't know each client's fondness of large animals, I took care before each scheduled appointment to ask that the dog was moved behind a closed door so he didn't greet my clients upon their arrival. More than once, the dog wasn't put away before a client arrived. Each time, I became more angry, really resenting this animal and the folks who weren't being conscientious about my needs.

I decided enough was enough and asked to end my lease early, per an earlier verbal agreement with my landlord.

October came and almost ended and here I was with the 31st approaching and no idea how or when to return my keys and get my security deposit back. I did the next logical thing and emailed him to set up a time and date to meet up.

No reply.

The following day, I called and left a voicemail reiterating the email from the day prior.

No reply.

That evening, as I made my way Downtown to chaperone a Halloween dance for LGBTQ youth, I was feeling pretty angry. The nasty wolf was really starting to eat me up inside. I really could feel all those negative feelings building--and then the thoughts followed:

"it's because I'm queer"

"I won't get my security deposit back now"

"I played by the rules and this isn't fair"

"things like this always happen to me"

"if I call again, I will get the answer I want--in fact, I'll call until I GET WHAT I WANT!"

Yeah, no.

Becoming more aggressive wasn't going to work with this guy. He's Italian. I'm Italian. If I got angrier and demanding, I was signing up for a fight, which wasn't what I wanted. I realized the problem: I had expectations for his behavior and I was suffering because he wasn't complying.

Guess who was in control of changing that?


I took a deep breath and didn't call. I didn't yell and scream via voicemail. I didn't write a strongly worded email. I didn't feed the angry wolf.

I just did nothing. I fed the one of compassion, love and patience. Compassion for whatever was going on in his life that I didn't know about, love for myself and those kids Downtown who needed a fun, mature chaperone and patience so I could become closer to the person I want to be. Someone who doesn't take things so personally and reacts less and is generally someone I would admire. I have lived a life full of the screaming, the crying, the ranting and the arguing. Too many hours, too many tears, too many times where I ended up asking myself---"why is this happening to me?" These things don't happen to us. We make them happen with our choices. What we experience is our responsibility.

I chose to feed that calm, patient wolf lots of loving words, and some frustrated ones---but I shared them with someone I trust--my partner. And I wrote in my journal a bit. I let the feelings out but I didn't lash out.

The next morning I received a very nice email from my landlord stating that my check would be waiting for me on Monday morning when I returned my key. He wished me the best in my future endeavors and apologized for the space not working out for my business.


The one that wins is the one you feed.