Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday on my Mind - Two Dogs and The Artist's Way

In the introduction to The Artist's Way, the author warns that the journey will certainly involve highs and lows, and that the reader should expect explosive anger and grief and resistance. I read this. I believed it. Ijust didn't think she was talking about me. After all, she doesn't know me. How can she just assume that I will fall into the Pit of Despair?

Well, I have. All of this self-discovery and excavation is hard. It is exhausting, and it is damned frustrating. I've been in a pretty bleak place, but then yesterday an incredibly wise woman shared a story with me that I'd like to share:

A shaman told his apprentice, "I have two dogs fighting in me all the time. One is good and happy and peaceful. The other is evil and sad and destructive."

The apprentice asked his master, "Which one will win?"

The shaman replied, "Whichever one I feed."

This same wise woman, only moments before, had been reflecting on those times when we read something or we hear something and we know that it is for us - almost as if the universe has placed those words in front of us at just the right moment because they contain some truth that we need at exactly that moment. Well, when she told me that story, I had one of those moments. I felt like I'd been hit by a two by four.

Don't we all have these inner conflicts? Not necessarily the big Good vs. Evil, but maybe more subtle conflcits. We have one dog who is justifiably angry about injustices suffered fighting with a sweet puppy who just wants to let go of the anger and be happy. We have the confident, outgoing labrador battling it out with a submissive, fearful spaniel. We have the talented, creative genius fighting it out with the insecure, blocked artist-child. Though outside forces may have some impact, aren't we really the ones feeding the dogs?

Personally, I have way more than two dogs fighting in me right now, and they are being particularly vicious lately. I've been feeling a little battered and bruised, so I kind of withdrew for a while. Honestly, I was in danger of setting up permanent residence at my own pity party for one. (I don't believe in sending out invitations for those; no one really wants to come anyway.) Then, along come this story that smacks me upside the head. I have to face the fact that I'm the one feeding all of those damned dogs.

Today I decided that I need to feed a dog that has been in danger of starvation. I played on the swings at the playground like I used to when I was 6. Swinging higher and higher, watching my toes reach for the blue infinity, and feeling the wind hug my face brought me joy that only a 6 year old flying through the sky can feel. While it didn't necessarily end the fighting, I'm starting to see how I can give the dog I so desperately want to win a fighting chance.

So, are you mindful of the dog you are feeding? How do you feed the dog that you want to win?


  1. This is a beautiful post! I've heard the story before and it is so true. So glad you have decided to feed your inner child. She is special.
    Feed the dog that makes you happy!

  2. RATS! I just tried to comment but it appears Blogger ate it. :(

    Anywhoo, I was just saying that your post was wonderful and you made some excellent points to take note of. I've always loved this particular story and, for me, I try to focus on feeding the dog that is joyful and loving.

  3. I have heard this story before and I think a couple times during this Artist Way journey. Its is so true and a profound little story. I think I feed the one that is joyful believes in the expansion of the heart and all that. Sometimes the other one gets more attention and I have to step back and remember do I want to be right or happy. When I choose the happy I am always better off.