This Article First Appeared in Happify
Sometimes, the simplest of stories are the most profound.
I have a vivid memory. When I was a little girl, at bedtime, my grandmother would tell us the story of two crows. The male crow ate only the foods that people threw out because of greed and excess. The female ate the crumbs people would kindly leave out for love of the crows. The male crow grew strong because most people threw away food all the time. The female stayed frail because few people actually cared for crows. But as time went on, the excess foods poisoned the male crow and he fell very ill. The female crow, on the other hand, grew strong with a heart of love. She collected the “crumbs of love” and fed them to him. Slowly, he recovered. With no crow to eat their surplus food, the people stopped buying and cooking in excess and only fed the crows their leftover bits out of love. And, of course, the whole world lived happily ever after!
When I think back to this story, I can’t help but marvel at how connected our ancestors were to the land, to its many species, and to their responsibility toward society. Almost all traditions have similar parables of good and evil, based on their culture and environment. One that’s more familiar in the Western world is the parable of the two wolves of the heart. The wolf of fear and the wolf of love.
As the narrator tells his grandson about the internal war between the two, the little boy asks: “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
“The one you feed,” comes the wise reply.
We’ve all had days when we’ve fed the wrong wolf. And, these days in particular, it’s easy to get caught in all that’s wrong and uncertain—in rage, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, and pessimism. It’s easy to hang onto anxious thoughts, or to spread messages of divisiveness, often from a place of self-righteousness.
But they only feed our fear.
We can certainly feel anxious about what’s to come. Or angry about everything that undermines basic human rights. But instead of magnifying our differences, we can choose to feed the wolf of love. We can choose to care about possibility and justice. We can choose to spread hope and humility, kindness, and generosity. We can choose to show up with compassion because we’re all connected in ways we don’t fully appreciate.
In my personal and professional experiences, I’ve found that those who extend the ripples of compassion the farthest are the ones who have deep and abiding compassion for themselves. Maybe that’s where you need to begin.
Or maybe it’s in asking yourself questions like:
- “How can I be a source of hope for others?”
- “Who are the people who inspire me to be my best?”
- “What’s the one thing I can do, and how will I do it?”
Because love leads to courage. And in every crisis, it’s courage that leads to a better long-term outcome for all. So, if you’re pining for things to go back to “normal,” remember there was nothing normal about the time before. What’s normal is what’s aligned with our human need for connection. In this time of global resetting, what part will you play?