The parable of the two wolves we feed used to be a trigger for serious anxiety to me. Feeling so weak many times when facing my obsessive thoughts, ruminations, intense feelings of irritation and anger, so common to depression and OCD, it was tough for me to hear how I might be feeding the wolf that was eating me alive. I felt powerless and that is the scariest thing for me.
As I have been recreating the daily professional routine for myself, it dawned on me that the meaning of the parable could be different. That the “big bad” wolf may be fed not by the thoughts we cannot repress but by beliefs that are left unchallenged and ultimately unchanged.
“This is how it is done” is a phrase that has peppered my childhood and youth. It is easy and hard to embrace that: you don’t really have to put in much effort, except for the one to conform. And that can be burden if the soul you keep caged longs to be free. The other day, as I was noticing that I had gaps in my day, periods of time when I had nothing planned and I could just rest or be or do whatever I wanted, the wolf in me started to howl, asking me to feed the belief that my life is worth anything only if I produce and that work I do is worth doing only if I am paid for it so that I contribute to my family’s wellbeing. It has by now become automatic to respond to this call with wolf treats and so my instict was to start feeding but fortunately I caught myself and started to ask: why can’t work just be meaningful to me? not remunerated necesarily in the way a certain lifestyle demands? who says that work has to be hard to be meaningful? who made the rule that if we enjoy what we do it means we don’t work hard enough? And so I turned my gaze to the calm, serene wolf on my right (who said left is bad and right is good anyway 🙂 ) and threw him a bone: “hmmm, let me at least try to look at things through a different lense.”
The battle of the wolves inside is continuous and at times palpably violent. Sometimes it is ok to feed the wolf of “this is how it’s always been done” because feeding the one of “let me explore other ways” does get tiring. But here is the catch: in her book, Top Ten Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware places this one at the very top: I wish I had lived a life that was true to myself and not according to what others expected of me.