Two Wolves

The Inner Battle

In the twilight of a cool American evening, beneath the watchful gaze of the crescent moon, an old Cherokee chief named Akecheta sits near the crackling fire, embers dancing upward into the starry sky. His grandson, Takoda, a growing boy with eyes that reflect constellations above him, sits cross-legged, listening intently.

Akecheta’s face is a tapestry of wrinkles, a map that time has etched on his weathered face. He speaks of the time before the white-eyes and tells stories about how the first men sprang from the Earth. He speaks of the time of giants and the time before the flood. He stops for a few moments and there is silence. Then he continues.

“Takoda,” he says in a voice as deep as the gentle river, “a relentless fight rages within me, as fierce as the thundering tempest yet as silent as a falcon’s flight. It is an eternal duel, a tug-of-war between two formidable wolves.”

His eyes are fixed on the leaping flames of the fire. He continues, “One wolf embodies the darkness – a dreadful beast shrouded in anger, envy, sorrow, regret, and greed. He bares his fangs in arrogance, wallows in self-pity and guilt, festers in resentment, inferiority, deception, and false pride. This wolf craves superiority, and his hunger is fueled by ego.”

Drawing a long breath, he then says, “And the other is the embodiment of light, the bearer of virtues. He radiates joy, peace, and love. He brims with hope, serenity, and humility, emanates kindness, benevolence, and empathy. He’s generous in spirit, a guardian of truth, compassion, and unwavering faith.”

“This struggle, my grandson, is not unique to me, it proceeds in every man who walks the Earth. It is there within you, too.”

“Grandfather,” asks Takoda, his eyes wide with curiosity, “Which wolf will emerge victorious in this strange battle?”

Akecheta looks deep into Takoda’s eyes. “It is always the same,” he says, “the wolf who wins is the one whom you feed.”

~A Cherokee Story