Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.) Fables.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a House-dog who was passing by. “Ah, Cousin,” said the Dog. “I knew how it would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you. Why do you not work steadily as I do, and get your food regularly given to you?”
“I would have no objection,” said the Wolf, “if I could only get a place.”
“I will easily arrange that for you,” said the Dog; “come with me to my master and you shall share my work.”
So the Wolf and the Dog went towards the town together. On the way there the Wolf noticed that the hair on a certain part of the Dog’s neck was very much worn away, so he asked him how that had come about.
“Oh, it is nothing,” said the Dog. “That is only the place where the collar is put on at night to keep me chained up; it chafes a bit, but one soon gets used to it.”
“Is that all?” said the Wolf. “Then good-bye to you, Master Dog.”
Better Starve Free Than Be a Fat Slave.
Sometimes we are the dog, and sometimes we are the wolf. The dog likes routine, a walk, a bowl of food, a heartfelt greeting from the owner as she returns home. All on schedule, all predictable.
This predictability is predicated on knowing the rules; in this case, the social rules guiding our lives and keeping us on a level plane. We need to know those rules, those defining boundaries, as they help secure our place as a functioning individual in the social world.
Our wolf, on the other hand, is a risk taker, independent, aligned with a wild group, living according to nature’s law, survival of the fittest, based on timing, skill, and just a little bit of luck.
The dog likes its bowl full, knows its place, and will wag its tail happily for the loving hand and the kind eye of the master. But the dog meets closed doors, tall fences, and is perhaps tethered out, all for its own protection. Looking out the window, the dog sometimes feels the primal urge to go explore, to growl at the unfamiliar, to hunt for its own dinner, and to live according to its own prescription.
The wolf in us needs great spaces to roam, to live by its wits and its skill as it adapts to the capriciousness of nature. There is help and support here by the members of the family. Lone wolf is a misnomer given by dogs. Wolves have a tightly bound social community. They too have longings, as they ache from hunger and cold, and gaze longingly at that yellow window, warm and cozy with family tucked safely inside.
The dog part of us is social and civilized, the wolf part, wild and untamed. We need both parts functioning, although sometimes they take turns and sometimes they work together.
Do we reach out, beyond our safely navigated routine and take the risk to grasp something that is calling, stirring our passion and our blood? Can we sit down, and do what is needed to maintain our security, our livelihood, our family?
Breaking free of old patterns requires both sides of our nature. We use our wolf-ness to leap past the current boundaries, to leave behind the old, the worn out and used up pieces that no longer serve our current needs. Then our dog-ness must settle in, find its spot, know its territory, develop its routine that allows for survival.
Yes, some of the freedom and independence of the wolf must be sacrificed at times in order to keep our lives in order, but keeping the wildness of the wolf alive and burning within us, is what can bring joy to our existence. The dog eats what is put in front of it, the wolf seeks out that which it desires.
Scavenger and hunter. Loyal companion and iconoclastic individual. Homebound and adventure bound.
Our twin selves. Use them both.
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