I had that familiar, sinking feeling last night when I started cleaning out the inbox for my personal e-mails. My old friend, Procrastination, had left me with a stack of messages whose fate needed deciding — 549 in total. The feeling evaporated, though, the moment I started rereading an e-mail that had come from an acquaintance quite some time ago.
Titled “Two Wolves”, here is what it says:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.”
“One is Evil — It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.”
“The other is Good — It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Undoubtedly, I risk appearing like some kind of New Age flower child by saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway: “Two Wolves” captures perfectly what I see to be at the heart of mediation. If we come to it with an open mind, the mediation process can help us “feed” the good in ourselves. Unlike court processes which often seem to fuel our anger, pick at our wounds and pit us against each other, mediation encourages us to put aside our darker side. It supports us in thinking beyond our anger, hurt and resentment so that we can forge an agreement that is the right one for us and for our children — together, and in a way we can feel good about.
Engaging in family mediation doesn’t mean there will be a fairytale ending to our relationship breakup. It does, however, give the Good Wolf in us a chance to win the battle.
PS: Like so many e-mails, “Two Wolves” came to me with no information about the original source or, even, its original form. I extend my apologies to its author, who I wish I could credit. Thank you, whoever you are, for such an inspiring piece.