A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the “two wolves” which exist inside each person, from an old Cherokee tale. One wolf was your traditional wolfish wolf, full of violence and venom. The other was a nice wolf, which seemed a bit of a stretch at the time, but the story was a good one. But as it turns out, wolves are nothing like as wolvish as we humans like to think.
“The idea that when humans are at their worst when they behave like wolves has been around a long time. Hobbes used the Latin tag homo homini lupus – man is a wolf to man – to illustrate his belief that unless they are restrained by government, people prey upon one another ruthlessly, while descriptions of rapacious or amoral behaviour as wolfish can be found throughout literature.”
“‘The wolf is art of the highest form and you cannot be in its presence without this lifting your spirits.’ Beyond its beauty, though, the wolf taught the philosopher something about the meaning of happiness. Humans tend to think of their lives as progressing towards some kind of eventual fulfilment; when this is not forthcoming they seek satisfaction or distraction in anything that is new or different. This human search for happiness is ‘regressive and futile’, for each valuable moment slips away in the pursuit of others and they are all swallowed up by death. In contrast, living without the sense of time as a line pointing to an end-point, wolves find happiness in the repetition of fulfilling moments, each complete and self-contained. As a result, as Rowlands shows in a moving account of his last year with Brenin, they can flourish in the face of painful illness and encroaching death.”