There is an old Cherokee legend that tells of a great battle raging inside the mind of man. Two wolves, raised together from pups, face off to assert their dominance over the other and take control of the mind. On one side, there is an evil wolf who feeds off of your anger, resentment, greed, guilt, and all other negative human emotions. On the other, a good wolf, hungry for empathy, peace, truth, joy, and all things good. Their insatiable hunger and powerful influence forever hidden by the promise of free will. And every one of the actions and decisions in your life feeds one of the wolves by consequence. Strengthening one, weakening the other, and ultimately deciding who the winner will be.

On the surface this story seems simple, a fight between the good and evil within each of us, but I think for me the true beauty of it lies beyond the obvious interpretation. I think its true meaning is to show us that no one is born inherently good or evil and that the decisions we make, no matter how small they seem, shape what kind of person we are. It forces us to connect the past, present, and future and realize that within each of us, these things exist as one. And that the subconscious mind really has no reference of time.

It’s easy to overlook the connections between the events of our lives. To forget that we are born as an unfinished project. Forever malleable. Forever changing. Minds programmed to adapt to the world around them but each in their own way. We interpret information anchored in reality, but arrange it in ways best fit to serve the strongest wolf. Arguably it is these imperfections that make us human. But what it means to be that, I am not sure.

Maybe the gift of conscious thought is nothing more than some mutated survival mechanism. A byproduct of the intense evolutionary pressure to outsmart those who would seek to destroy us. Or maybe it is altogether something more beautiful. Either way I am often left to wonder of my purpose here, or if there is truly one at all. I suppose it really doesn’t matter all that much but for some reason I’d still like to find the answer.

Perhaps instead of existing in a world of right and wrong, there is really only different shades of grey. Varying from place to place, person to person, and wolf to wolf. Maybe the person we are is written in our DNA, maybe fate does exist, but for me, it just seems like a cop-out. To lend your life to an agenda not your own and relinquish all accountability for the good or bad things that happen to you is in and of its self a tragedy. But for what it’s worth, I understand the appeal. I believe in taking responsibility for my own life, for suffering the failures, and enjoying the successes. For not just living my life, but also experiencing it, and for feeding my wolves, because if I don’t I’m sure someone else will.

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