Long ago, on a cold, snowy winter night, an old man pulled his young grandson onto his lap for a cuddle before bed. A cheery blaze burned low in the fireplace at their feet, warming the room around them.
The boy had just been scolded by his parents for a temper tantrum. The grandfather was trying to comfort the child, while still highlighting the error of his ways.
"Dry your eyes and listen," said the old man. "It's time for you to hear this story. You're not a baby anymore, and you can't keep acting like one."
The boy sniffed and rubbed a grubby hand under his nose. Leaning back into his grandfather's arms, he waited quietly.
"Who wins, Grandpa?" asked the boy, his voice soft with drowsiness.
Hugging the child close to his heart, the old man whispered, "the one you feed."
I heard this story a long time ago. Through the years, it's poignancy has continued to resonate with me. As an entertaining short story, it perhaps falls into the Ho-Hum category. But as a classic fable, it rockets to the top of the list.
Recently, I found myself feeding the Black wolf. The annoying angel on my shoulder poked me incessantly, warning me that the Black wolf was getting pretty chubby. I am generally a positive person, though, so I quickly swatted the annoying angel, and shouted denials, just to be sure. Protestation didn't help the dark one slim down. In fact, the fat rolls grew in direct proportion to the decline in my quality of life.
One day, the wolf became so obese, it smashed into my heart, resulting in a crash-and-burn, bloated eyelid, gut-wrenching, tears-on-the-pillow cryfest. The emaciated White wolf looked on, begging for whatever scraps I had. Weak with acquiescence, I handed the blue-eyed creature toast, chicken legs, bits of cheese, and the last residue of peanut butter left in the jar. The Black wolf snarled in the background, desperate for the goodies, but I tossed it nothing more than a look of dismissal and walked away with the White wolf, patting it on the head as we went.
Once I made the choice to feed the wolf I wanted in my life, things brightened considerably. Little in life is guaranteed or fair. What the White wolf reminds us is that it's our choice to cultivate a great relationship with our inner brightness, and deny the Black wolf, any chance of getting fat on daily diet of worries, injustices and fears. Its that very action that leads to a sense of control, which further strengthens the health of the White wolf inside us all.
The Black wolf will just have to find it's meals elsewhere.