Stella Pope Duarte

Which wolf will you feed in 2011?

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A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.”

The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.”

This Native American reflection is indeed a poignant one, and the words lead us directly to our own hearts. I have often shared these words with audiences across the nation, and always, people react to the power of the words and begin to think of their own choices.

Darkness and light are found in every human being on earth. We choose over and over again – sometimes in the simplest ways – the thought that makes us angry versus the thought that brings us peace. People often ask me if they can take an extra copy of the reflection for a mother-in-law, or a husband or boyfriend, and everyone laughs. I want to ask the person, “What about yourself?” Usually I don’t ask, because the audience is often large, and I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but I don’t hesitate to share how many times I have been the one I am talking about – I’m the one feeding the “wrong wolf.”

The breakdown of the world is this: We have a huge landscape within us, which is where we really live, and in that world, our WILL is law. I compare this with the ancient and profound story of Adam and Eve, or they could have been Adán y Eva, for all we know. One tricked the other into doing something “sinful,” which involved disobeying God, and of the two, the woman was chosen as the scapegoat. I’ve had people ask me if what Eve offered Adam was really an apple. How should I know? Maybe it was a mango.

The heart of the story is like the reflection of the two wolves. We choose, every hour, every minute of our lives – we choose to love, to hate, to accept, to reject, on and on, sometimes in deadly patterns, which we alone can change. I have lost count of the times I have wanted to act in anger over a rude remark or a person who has caused me great pain, and the “vengeful, angry, violent wolf” wants to take over. Before, perhaps I would have let the “wolf” out, but as I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, I’m learning to respond with love, even when I feel none, with patience even when I’m in a rage, and with diplomacy when I would rather fight.

In 2011, I want to change one choice at a time. In fact, every day, I think about ways I need to change, perhaps reverse an emotional habit that has led me down a path that only brings pain and heartache.

My mother was right, “Cada cabeza es un mundo.” Every mind is its own world, and in the end, it won’t matter how much money we made or what we owned. It won’t matter what kind of pain we suffered or how much we had to endure – everyone has a part in the mystery of suffering. I have learned this: It’s not what you suffer, but how you suffer it that makes you holy.

In 2011, it will matter immensely, which wolf you feed. It will mean the difference between light and darkness, life and death. It will mark you as one who is aware that you are creating Paradise on earth – one choice at a time.

Stella Pope Duarte was born and raised in South Phoenix. She began her writing career  in 1995 after she had a dream in which her deceased father told her that her destiny was to become a writer. Her work has won awards and honors nationwide.

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