I’ve been unwell. This isn’t a surprise, or news. It just is a thing that happens in my life. I got swept up in physical pain, anxiety, and the depression that trails after the two. Often my issues feel like they’re surrounding me, a pack of hungry dogs, nipping at me to move in certain directions, blocking me from moving in others. I can hide behind them, “Look, I have a bunch of dogs barking at me, I can’t deal with this other thing right now,” I can even turn to them for comfort. They’re always there.
But that’s the thing. Depression, anxiety, my pain, they are always going to be with me. I can take medication, meditate, exercise, eat right, and talk to a therapist until I’m blue. Those dogs are going to be there, with voices. With soft growls and loud, insistent yelps.
There’s a parable, attributed to the Cherokee, which I know as Two Wolves. A man explains to his grandson that there are two wolves at war in his heart.
“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 asks which of the wolves will win, and the man says, “The one you feed.”
I’ve been letting the dogs lead me, swept up in their fight, their hunt for safety. I’ve kept my head down and tried to keep the dirt out of my eyes. But this is not a deep river with an inescapable current. I can pick up the leads and chose my own course. I will get bit; I will be dragging angry dogs. It will be hard, thankless work.
But it will be my work, each plodding step on my own path.