"The Black Wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great."
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
We like to think there is a vent for releasing all of our pent-up frustrations, starting again at zero. This is preferable over actuality, that releasing misery tends to feed misery. What are we paying attention to? We feed what we put our energy into, and in putting our energy into suffering, we only remind ourselves of the things we wish to forget.
There is an old Chinese proverb that states:
The proverb summarizes around ten hours of reading I had just done. I wrote and deleted several drafts of this essay, trying to figure out how best to express all the data I had accumulated on good mental health. I was overcomplicating things. Facts and figures are impressive for a day, but fleeting. After a while, no one remembers. Story is built into our DNA. We can recall most fables and parables that we've heard, even if they're from our early youth. History, actual events, they're quickly forgotten. Legends last for thousands of years. Why are religions so powerful? More so than actual history? Because they are based on narrative. I remember very few graphs and factoids from high school, but mythology, I remember. Better than any expository essay I could write is an old Cherokee parable on anger. Like many classical stories, its clarity and timelessness comes from the use of animal symbology. I hope this fable serves you as well as it's served me.
The Legend of the Two Wolves
(Unknown author, with some light editing by me.)
Though distressing, the Black Wolf is just as vital to our health as the White Wolf. Ignoring the Black Wolf is like ignoring an itch, all our attention will shift to it. And if we scratch the itch intensely, looking for relief, the itch will only grow worse. We can feed it, or we can acknowledge it and move on. They are what make us human, the freedom to choose beyond instinct. And with both halves, like having both eyes, reality becomes clearer — better able to face our obstacles.
Since this was originally a story from the oral tradition, for full impact, I would suggest listening to the audio version, as read by Marty Morgan.