Sunday, July 06, 2014

'The One You Feed'

There’s this Native American story about an old man explaining the facts of life to his grandson.

We all have two wolves fighting inside of us, the old man said, one is evil, filled with anger, greed,
self-pity, and arrogance. The other is good, representing joy, peace, love, and kindness.

“Which wolf will win?” the boy asked his grandfather.

“The one you feed,” the old man replied.

I had a serious run-in with my evil wolf on Saturday and I fed that bloodthirsty canis lupus everything from soup to nuts. And I do mean nuts.

I got out of bed with a bad attitude. I’ve been having some kind of trouble with my upper back. Apparently I pulled a muscle and if I move a certain way I get zapped with a bolt of pain that makes me even crankier than usual.

From there I stumbled through a series of boneheaded misconceptions that stirred up a massive thundercloud of vile emotions that threatened to overwhelm a beautiful sunny day.

I’m going on vacation in a few weeks and I somehow became convinced that there was something wrong with my plane reservation because I hadn’t received a confirmation email. Panic set in as I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a flight now.

A few frantic calls to my bank and the airline confirmed that, yes, nitwit, I had indeed purchased the tickets nearly a month ago.

Next I called my auntie at her farmhouse in the Berkshires, something I do every morning, only this time I kept getting dumped into voicemail.

I became more agitated each time I called, as I imagined all sorts of horrific scenarios. She had fallen down the stairs; a rabid grizzly had blasted the front door off its hinges; those perverted hillbillies from Deliverance had invaded her house and were making her squeal like a pig.

“Call me back,” I said as huffed up to my gym, “or I’m calling the cops!”

Werewolves of Brooklyn

I could barely enjoy my gym class as my wolf brain created increasingly terrible images of my auntie’s (fantasy) distress. And every time I made a wrong move my shoulder sent amber waves of pain through my body.
I checked my phone as soon as I got out of the cardio class and saw a message from my auntie.

She had gone to breakfast with her friends earlier that morning, which she had told me about on Friday and which had slipped clean out of my head.

Then it was on to the dry cleaner, where I tried to pick up my shirts even though I couldn’t find my ticket. There was only one problem: the owner couldn’t find any shirts belonging to me.

Did I forget to bring them last week? I go through this ritual nearly every Saturday so maybe I just thought I had gone there last week.

But the owner had recently given my shirts away to another customer. I got them back, but I was a little nervous for a few days, so I don't really consider this fellow the most trustworthy guy in town.

I think there’s a good chance that I didn't leave any shirts there and as I walked out I decided this would be a great time to find a new dry cleaner.

I go† home and prepared for my favorite pastime: laying out on my keester in nearby Shore Road Park. All the bad stuff from the morning was behind me and nothing could possibly go wrong now.

And then it did.

As I got my stuff together to go down to the park, I realized that I didn’t have my bottle of sunblock. I’d rather avoid sunburn and other, more serious ailments, so I started looking around my apartment. And looking. And looking. And I was getting loonier with every passing second.

There Goes the Sun

I usually keep the sunblock in a rather packed hallway closet, but there was no sign of it there.

Anger has this way of sneaking up on me like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Even though I’m thoroughly pissed about something in the present moment, the dark wolf of my subconscious will drag up all sorts of ugly memories so that I get even angrier.

I don't want to jackass to the store and buy more sunblock, I growled, my fangs starting to show. And I'm missing all this beautiful sunshine.

I finally gave up, realizing that I was in no state to look for anything. I dug out an old bottle of sunblock and squeezed that sucker until it coughed up the last few blobs of goop.

I went out last night in a semi-successful effort to reclaim my sanity.

This morning I got up with a little less pain in my shoulder and a determination to keep my emotions in check. I ate breakfast, watched Joel Osteen, and got my gear together for another trip to the park.

And just for the hell of it, I walked over to the hallway closet, moved some stuff around on the top shelf, and the bottle of sunblock came tumbling down like Santa Claus chimney-surfing on Christmas morning.

A peaceful, satisfied feeling came over me and I could almost hear my good wolf licking his lips.


Ron said...

"“Which wolf will win?” the boy asked his grandfather.

“The one you feed,” the old man replied."

Rob, I loved that! And it's soooooo true - it's whatever one we choose to feed.

Isn't it something how our mind will often take hold of a thought or an emotion and create the worse case scenarios, even before anything actually happens? And then from that point, it affects our entire day, or even week.

I often say that life is sometimes like a series of detours and hurdles; testing us to see what we'll focus on. If I focus (or feed) on the detour or hurdle, that's where I'll stay. But if I focus or feed on the part of me that always guides me to the highest good, then I'll discover a better and smoother way.

Great post, buddy. And an awesome reminder for me.

"A peaceful, satisfied feeling came over me and I could almost hear my good wolf licking his lips."

Have a super week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, what's up?

You're so right about focusing on the hurdle. That's what I've been doing for a long time now and it's gotten me absolutely nowhere.

I've got a knack for focusing on the worse case scenario and it's about time I cut it out.

Thanks for stopping by, buddy, and do take care!

Bijoux said...

Some days, it's good to just go back to bed!

I'm paranoid about reservations, too. Because the one time I didn't confirm, they claimed to have no record of my reservation (hotel in D.C.).

Hope your Monday is worry-free.

Rob K said...

Thanks, Bijoux! I like your idea of going back to bed!

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob! We had a similar scenario happen this past Thurs. My parents and I are looking to buy a house together and Thurs was the day they put in the offer. They were supposed to call me once it was in. But they didnt. I called, response. In my head something drastic had changed and they were avoiding me. Reality? They got busy. Its all in how you look at things!

Rob K said...

Hey, Shae, our minds can create all sorts of drastic scenes that aren't even remotely accurate. Gotta feed the right wolf!

Take care!

Stephanie Faris said...

What is it they say? The vast majority of things you worry about will never happen. It's the things you don't worry about that get you. Of course...that just makes you worry about all the things you haven't worried about yet!

Rob K said...

Brilliant, Stephanie!

CrystalChick said...

I read that Native American story before. Interesting, isn't it? Yes, the one you feed.
Oh, I've had some days lately myself. Arthritis is trying to take over my body... it seems that a knee may have been added to it's list of conquests. And we had a storm last night... I can 'feel' them coming... so hubby shouldn't have been surprised that I was a bit off. Guess I yelled at him or something. Pfft... na, maybe just some slight snarkiness. Ha!
Glad you're feeling better.
Enjoy your vacation!

Rob K said...

Hey, Mary. I'm so sorry about the arthritis.

I'm sure your husband understands the occasional outburst of snark. Heck, you're giving the guy free weather reports.

I'm be sending you prayers, hugs, and plenty of good vibrations!

Take care.