Gather with Purpose. Feed the Wolves. By: Erin Cummings
Many of us have heard the old Cherokee story, “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
And many of us know the ending… the one you feed wins.
In my own life, I too have two wolves inside, one that fights to the be the same as everyone, and one that fights to be an individual. It’s a battle I’ve faced my whole life, ever since I can remember. One that purposefully lets people down if their expectations are high and one that crushes people’s expectations that are two low. Does it sound exhausting? It is. Luckily I have grown and I am getting pretty good at realizing when they start to fight and how the fight started. The fight and struggle have gotten me far, but it depletes my creative brain.
I, like many of you, planned on having family join us in our new home for Thanksgiving this year, a ritual we have done for the past few years, and was crushed when we all made the decision it would be best to sit this one out
Besides Halloween, Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine. It brings family together, I get to host, and there is no drama with gift giving and stress about who has what, or even about if there is food I can eat. It’s just loads of wine and food and a really great freaking time. The past few years, my husband’s brother and his wife have joined us and they are vegan.
….Before you go into immediate judgement here, our family has a ton of food allergies milk, egg, and gluten. So, honestly the vegan thing wasn’t a hard transition. It became a new way to challenge myself and my cooking and a new way to recreate the ritual of really good wine, really good food, and a great freaking time.
Insert my two wolves.. how in the hell am I going to manage this? How is it going to be the same as years past? How am I going to make it all new? How am I not going to be sad and depressed the entire day? I realized it’s not going to be one or the other, or at least, it doesn’t have to be. It is BOTH. It is going to be full of ritual, and it will be done in a different way.
Here’s my plan: to acknowledge those who will be at my table and honor those who can’t. Do the same vegan, gluten free meal that has been rolling around in my head for months, and add an extra rhubarb pie for my dad who is joining us for the first time in a few years, since his ritual was broken. My dad normally hangs with his siblings and they go to where my grandparents ashes were spread and they eat at my grandparents favorite restaurant after.
To memorialize and honor those who aren’t here: make and celebrate the food they love to eat.
To acknowledge those who are here: make their favorite food and include them on previous ritual of our Thanksgiving.
In Priya Parker’s Book The Art of Gathering, she says “a category is not a purpose.” In order to create better connection and live a more purpose driven life, we must create purpose for our gatherings. In return this creates better connection and more gratitude for the gathering.
This year, I encourage you to add purpose to your Thanksgiving gathering, even if it’s around your immediate family only. How can you acknowledge those who are there and honor those who can’t be with you? Set an intention, don’t feed the wolves, but let them work together.