This past week, not far from where I live, someone in a fit of rage killed a number of people he didn’t even know. An enraged daughter called her mother’s physician because the hospice nurse (me) wouldn’t make her mother comply with a specific assessment which the daughter felt was necessary. I also received an announcement of a “brand new miniature human”. What do these three things have in common, you question? My ramblings on this:
I can’t help but wonder, what makes a person so angry and irrational that they would arbitrarily take someone’s life? Inconceivable. I’m certain that person must be in some hell of their own making, to feel so much hatred and commit such a heinous act. But we rarely know a person’s whole story. How does a little miniature human, who started out so soft and innocent, become a raging vicious lunatic?
By degrees, I think. By allowing ourselves the opportunity to ferment inside; letting the evil, sad, cruel wounds that mar the soft skin of our life become wounds that stagnate, fester and grow into something so monstrous that we can no longer refrain from striking out to hurt others. The story of the two wolves is an apt description of what happens to the soft miniature human.
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life and said to the boy:
“A fight is going on inside me, It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil-he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority and ego.”
“The other is good-he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
He told his grandson “The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person too”.
The grandson thought for a minute and asked his grandfather:
“Which of the two wolves will win?”
The grandfather answered:
“The one you feed.”
Back to the unhappy daughter… I had a visceral response to this daughter’s complaint: a burning anger. She obviously felt I wasn’t giving enough credence to her suggestion and needed to go “over my head” to get something done. I obviously felt her need to have this assessment done was in direct opposition to her mother’s need to express autonomy. Who is in charge here, I asked myself? (And then answered my own question: not me!)
I recognized this daughter’s need to grasp control in an ever changing environment. Her mother has been dying by degrees and the hospice nurse isn’t able to prevent it. All
these emotions colliding and we can’t find the means to communicate what we really
need to; a way to speak and listen, with compassion and patience.
Feeding the wolf is an ever present reality, and we all have daily occurrences of little offenses, hurts, unmet needs and fragile emotions that can mark us (but also remind us which wolf we want to feed).
Her mother died three days after her distress over the things that were changing and out of her control. She was not there, but I was able to describe to her the beautiful and peaceful expression on her mother’s face.
Yes, we all have our own wounds to heal.