Feeding the Wolves

March 5, 2021

There’s a pretty well known story (apocryphally attributed to the Cherokee or possibly some other Native American tribe) about an old man who tells his grandson that there are two wolves fighting inside of him. One wolf is a wolf of kindness, compassion, generosity and love. The other is a wolf of anger, resentment, bitterness and greed. “Which wolf will win?” the boy asks. “The one I feed,” wise grandfather responds.

We all have, of course, a great many more than two wolves in us. I have a wolf of procrastination, a wolf of easy distraction, a big bad joke wolf and a very sneaky pizza wolf who pounces at the most unexpected and inopportune times. I have a neglected party hearty wolf, a heartbroken music wolf, a garden wolf, a chess wolf who likes the Benoni defense, a gourmand wolf partial to fusion cuisine, and a desperate swimming wolf who, with the pool a potent Covid risk, is chomping – no, slathering to get back in the lake and start swimming again.

Grandfather is right: the wolves that stick around are the ones we feed. And when it can’t get a pizza, there’s nothing a wolf likes better than a good story. So when Jessica de la Cruz invited me to share some of my stories on North in Focus I thought of all of my wolves. And how hungry they are. And how a good title for this column might be Feeding the Wolves. The wolf, after all, is a being of the North Woods. Furtive, wise and cunning – an animal sacred to the Anishanabe, the oldest dwellers of this place we live. So here’s to feeding the wolves! I got a lot of wolves, but that’s okay. I got a lot of stories.

Kevin McMullin is a storyteller and author who lives in Northwestern Wisconsin. His book, “Into the Black Sea: Stories of Darkness and Light” is available at his website www.kevinmcmullin.com.