One evening an elder Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern, uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision and inaction. The other is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement and action.”
The grandson thought about it for a moment and then meekly asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”
Our minds are magnificent at being able to take the smallest thought and turning it into something of great significance. Everything from the Car to the Telephone was once contrived from the inner depths of the human mind. Equally so, these thoughts of ours can lead us down a road of delusion and fear.
As the great philosopher, Seneca understood, to free yourself from fear you must work backward. You start with the thought of your mortality. You accept and embrace this reality. You think ahead to the inevitable moment of your death and determine to face it as bravely as possible.
The more you contemplate your mortality, the less you fear it—it becomes a fact you no longer have to repress. By following this path, you know how to die well, and so you can now begin to teach yourself to live well.
You will not cling to things unnecessarily. You will be strong and self-reliant, unafraid to be alone. You will have a certain lightness that comes with knowing what matters—you can laugh at what others take so seriously.
The pleasures of the moment are heightened because you know their impermanence and you make the most of them. And when your time to die comes, as it will some day, you will not cringe and cry for more time, because you have lived well and have no regrets.
Make the most to the week ahead, embrace the impermanence and you too can be a source of great significance.