A young Cherokee brave was brought before the elders of his tribe a number of times for his troubled ways. It bothered the Tribe’s chief more than the others since it was his grandson. On the final day of his life, the old chief summoned his grandson one last time. He agonized about what to say. He deeply loved the boy and wanted to leave him with an enduring thought about life.
“My grandson, he said, “inside me there is a great battle between two wolves. One is good. He is love, faith, truth, and giving. The other is evil. He is anger, greed, and envy.” The Chief reached out, took his grandson’s hand, and said, “This same battle goes on inside you. Inside us all.”
The young brave looked down on his grandfather not knowing what to say, only that he liked battles, and asked, “So, which one wins, grandfather?
“The one you feed,” said the old chief.
It’s a rare antique of a story. Sometimes it’s dogs not wolves. Always it’s people. Its my favorite mini story. It says so much in so few words. The original title for my second book was, ‘Wives Drinkers and Demons.’ A title meant to make you curious enough to buy it. An important aspect for good novels. I kept trying to understand how a man, a dad, could be so scary when the sun went down and smile when the sun came up.
But when I heard the old Indian chief, I knew. Dads, husbands, moms, wives, people, me, we’re all born with those two pups inside us. It was the bad pup that dragged me to that dark room with its murky answers for all those years. A secret I hid in the wilderness of my mind. Way back then, it was a terrible thing to know about a street kid.
Here’s the irony of it all, it was that same snarling pup that drug me to a laptop. Now as a writer, I dig for that gold called truth. Another old guy, by the name of Socrates, said it best, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
In everything I write about there are pieces of myself––both the young brave and, now, the Indian Chief. That’s the great secret about the written word. That when it comes from the heart, we can lay it out in front of us, rewrite it, and delete the rotten parts. Writing, for me, has been more medicinal than all those little pills or that guy in the dark room. It’s more like blood letting. Whew.
As soon as I made the two wolves the premise of my memoir, it changed the whole story with its truth and varied conclusions.
You know what I mean.
When it’s published I’ll call it creative non-fiction because I dared answer what they themselves were afraid to. What some of us tremble to ask ourselves.
So why do we feed the one and starve the other? Or feed one more than the other? Yes, why is a powerful word. It’s impossible to put in a memoir and call it truth. So we dive deep in the minds of our characters to try to figure it out for them. The who, what, when, and where of our stories is the easy part. The ‘why’ is the impossible part.
As you can see from the subtitles I’ll have other things to tell you: Short stories about people I knew or wish I had known. Mini stories that take a minute to read and few minutes to think about. Spanish and Irish stories that laugh and cry …and secrets they never told.
And of Wisdom: May I speak of my fumbles and goofs? My points of life? Content yet hungry to know. Wealth as measured by time. Love as given and received. Friendships both old and new. Our children, our greatest creations. Growth without stunting others. Inner health and outer joy. The great bargains of life with its give aways: This ceiling called sky; this star called sun, this breath called air, this liquid called water, this need called love.
So, welcome. Glad you stopped by. Take a moment to read a little from an old neophyte. I can tell you that old age is more than just wrinkles and pain. It’s another 24/7. Try to think vacation.
And because I’d like you to come back, I’ll be adding things to my little library including excerpts from my manuscripts–– both old and new––they’re twins, you know. Meantime, keep moving and thinking … and? Writing I hope.
I dedicate this page not to an O’Brien but to a Coyle–Steven V. and his good wolf. A man, young and raw with love who lugged two families to the top of a hill. He was 27 when I was 9. He became my father. Just married with a pregnant wife, hardy able to get by, he took us in–4 kids and a sister in law. He had to. His heart needed to. As much as it needed blood. I wrote things about him. I needed to. As much as my heart needs blood.