Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feeding Wolves

Momentary Troubles

Wound up with my recent frustrations, it all came pouring out in a conversation while sewing. My friends were empathetic and kindly listened to my puffs of steam. I felt so much better after naming that which is unkind, unfair, and unlikely to change. Time alone with my thoughts had led me to feel trapped, but a long chat with friends made me realize these are merely momentary troubles. Conversation can right the world!


Despite my shift in perspective from being heard, conflicted feelings lurked for having dumped my troubles on my friends and into my writing. Within my new found emotional clearing, I considered the strengths and goodness of my Navy experiences and wrote of my pearls of wisdom as a Navy wife. I also thought about my constant struggle between naming injustice and letting it go. Then serendipity intervened. I hit play on my iPod and a story made sense of my struggles.

A Wolf Story

We attended Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church when we lived in Washington, D. C.  Pastor Andy Walton baptized both of our children. I get behind, but I do still listen to his sermons. Only now it is on a podcast. This is my transcript of a part of his podcast “Speaking Our Imagination” from Capitol Hill Sermons released on 3/13/2012. It punched me right between the eyes. I loved how he told the story with his native Georgia drawl.

An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life, and he said to them, “A fight is going on inside of me. It’s a terrible fight, and it’s between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. And he said to his grandchildren, “This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person.” And his grandchildren, wide-eyed, thought about this for a minute and one of them asked, “Which wolf will win?” The wise elder simply replied, “The one you feed my child, the one you feed.”

By naming the wrongs and feeding my self-pity, I had fed the first wolf. Left to my own devices to mull over troubles, I tend to fall into a vat of anxiety. The healing power of conversation and listening restored me to my senses. However, my recording of the anxiety in a popular blog is perhaps a totem of warning to allow for more time to pass before sharing strong feelings and experiences and to wait until I can look at them sideways as another friend suggested.

I aim for a path as a truth sayer as much for you the reader as for myself the writer. I keep feeding two wolves instead of one, but I'm not ready to give up yet.


Yesterday my mama friends fed me something wonderful. We had a long meeting in the afternoon for shogakko observation so we went out to lunch first. Mama friends are also working at this popular restaurant. The wonder was in the boneless fillet of Aji (鯵), Japanese jack mackerel, filled with the ever sour, ever salty umeboshi paste and bits of shiso, most delectable! Ume are called plums in English but they are really a type of apricot. The sour plums make for an awesome mouth experience. You can find umeboshi paste in Asian groceries or online. If you like sour tastes, try it with pork, fish, or inside a rice ball. Besides, everything tastes better deep fried.
Fried fish (aji) with umeboshi paste and chopped shiso inside! Beyond oyshi!


  1. Over my 35 years involved in Scouting, I have said Hello/goodbye To more base people than I can count. Some of those people made the most of their Japan experience and some never went off the base ... unless to visit another base. Many faced the same frustrations you have written of.
    There is a little prayer that goes something like... "Lord, give me the courage to change the things I can change, the strength to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference".
    Sometimes the most pesky wolf, like the loudest kid, is the one that gets fed.Hang in there and continue to sop up the culture while you are here.

  2. I can thread a needle in less than one minute now as opposed to the twenty it took me in your workshop. Thanks for taking the time to write me a note. I do know you are right. I tend to falter in the middle of distracting moments. As I've noted from your writings as well, we all need positive reinforcement. My husband recently looked up the original version of Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer- the waiting game is tough on military families. That prayer is good medicine for these times. I wish the culture sopping could happen with warmer weather too!


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