feeding wolves

asi726franciswolf

I saw this post at kottke during the Japan trip and saved it to read again later. This is one of the stories from Ethan Hawke’s Rules for a Knight:

One time, on a sweltering August night, Grandfather and I made camp down by the ocean. He said, “While I teach you about the ways of war, I want you to know that the real struggle is between the two wolves that live inside each of us.”

“Two wolves?” I asked, seated on an old log near the fire. My eyes were transfixed by the flames twisting uncomfortably in the night air.

“One wolf is evil,” he continued. “It is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, deceit, false pride.” He paused, poking at the embers of our fire with a long stick he’d been carving.

“The other is good. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, humility, loving-kindness, forgiveness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith.”

I considered that for a minute, then tentatively asked, “Which wolf will win?”

Sparks danced towards the stars as the old man stared into the glare of the flames and replied, “Whichever one you feed.”

I was at the right age to be profoundly affected when Reality Bites was released and have a copy of Hawke’s The Hottest State. He’s always appeared to be a thoughtful actor and his writing seems to be that of a sensitive person underneath a broody exterior. Quite intrigued by the book, will put it on the list.

Kottke’s self-reflection on the story is so on point:

I’ve been feeding the wrong wolf recently. He’s so hungry and there’s been a lot of available food, but I’ve got to get back on track.

The pic is the statue of St Francis and the wolf of Gubbio at Basilica di Santa Maria Degli Angeli in Assisi. That is another thought-provoking story.

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