Friday, May 4, 2007

wolves are good for you

My co-worker sent me this one and I like it, despite its obvious manipulative fictionality:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Yup. Pretty much.

I cannot think about wolves without thinking about Kenny, a guy we used to play roleplaying games with in North Carolina. His character had pet wolves, with whom he was spiritually bonded or something. Kenny began acquiring wolf memorabilia: t-shirts, wall art, knick knacks, everything under the sun.

That game affected him profoundly. Something in the character and his pet wolf struck a chord with Kenny - a funny, quick-witted, shy, salt of the earth man who played games mostly to keep a friend company at first, and then became so obsessed with the game's plot that he would call me at 3:00 in the morning to ask questions.

Some might think of it as scary, but it was really an ego boost. That, and a delight. We had a connection in which we could discuss morality and nature, from the most trivial of hobbies and obsessions. From this and other similar games, I have developed the idea that playing such heuristic explorations of personal and ethical social orientation can be not only entertaining, but fundamentally, deeply human.

Kenny used to say, "wolves are good for you." It was his character's universal remark when people complained about his inclusion of his erstwhile pet/companions. It was his own remark when he was teased about his wolf memorabilia.

They were good for him. They totally revitalized his world view and his way of seeing his fellow man. They brought him out of his shell and gave him a "pack."

I haven't seen Kenny in years, but I remember him tenderly.

When you're next playing a game -- a roleplaying game, or "I spy," or any game you play -- step out of your own mind and into that of someone or something with which you can sympathize. What would you be like if you were a wolf? A scrub jay? A human of the other sex? A hero? An assassin? A clone?

When you are done playing, you'll still be yourself. Only bigger.

Wolves are good for you.

And I don't mean that in a furry way.

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