I was born on the cusp of Taurus and Gemini, with both moon and rising in Scorpio. So, this makes me either a mysterious-yet-flirtatious aesthete or a stubborn, flaky psycho, depending on how you look at it. And I suppose I am capable of being all of these things at different times, perhaps even running through all these traits – and back again – in a matter of minutes. I am a ‘deep girl with shallow moments,’ I am fond of saying. I will weep over the human condition but soothe myself with new jeans or an hour of Flava of Love. I want to save the world and I want to forget about the world.
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto this story about a summer camp promoting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Within it was an allegory that seems to succinctly sum up the endless battle between inner dualities that characterizes not only my own life but the lives of so many people I know and care about:
“Group leader Ken Kramarz told the campers a story from the Coast Miwok, whose tribal ancestors once inhabited the Sierra. A boy tells his grandfather: ‘I feel that I have two wolves fighting inside of me. One is angry and violent. The other is loving and compassionate. Who will win?’
The grandfather responds: ‘The one you feed.’ “
I have passed this bit along to a few people and it has proved eerily apropos with life events of late. As I have listened to and observed a friend of mine going through a rough patch really identify with the two-wolves story, I also find my own lupine battle of wills raging within.
I am, in more ways that I care to acknowledge, my father’s daughter. My Pops is the quintessential Aquarius – globally humanitarian, personally remote. Tender-hearted yet deeply cynical. Intellectually genius, but emotionally retarded. A man of refined taste and decent upbringing who has always felt more at home, like Jesus, with the outcasts. Sometimes it has made me crazy, this affinity my Dad seems to have for the flotsam and jetsam people of this life. More than once I have looked at his friends and thought: ‘trash……..what does he see in this person?’
But who am I kidding. There’s nothing I love more than a bird with a broken wing, as long as the bird sings for me. I see beauty in things and people – abandoned buildings, dusty road signs, teenaged foster kids, Styrofoam peanuts rolling up the hill, convicts – that are other people’s trash. That plastic bag scene from American Beauty moved me to tears and still does when I see one caught in the wind. My best friend told me a few days ago that I’ll hold onto old friends who have done me wrong – ‘broken your stereo, scratched your CDs, stolen your lipstick, smoked dope in your house, flirted with your boyfriend –’ whereas he will deep-six a motherfucker real quick for far less.
And this is true. Unless you have screwed my boyfriend or hurt my dogs or ripped me off or betrayed me in a pretty vile way, I can pretty much get over anything else, because I bond for life, it seems, and I treasure people the way some people treasure money, or orchids, or really good golf clubs. Sometimes my heart feels so big, like there’s enough of it for everyone, and enough love in it to wash the pain out of everyone who hurts. Sometimes I want to save the world. I want to use my pen to wake it up, I want to use my hands to soothe the brows the suffering, I want to use my back to cook up dinner to feed the whole clan.
And other days I have nothing to give. I want to forget about the world and read People. Whereas yesterday I wanted to get a Master’s in Criminal Justice and single-handedly transform public policy, today I might want to get a certificate in Interior Design and just make people’s houses look pretty. Some days I want to get in the trenches and make the world a better place, and other ones I just want new fucking shoes.
And some days I want to love someone who has been bad and is broken, a mangled bird with a golden core, and be the agent of transformation and somebody’s own Personal Jesus. And other days I want to run screaming from that, slam the door on any saving of anyone or anything, and ask, who is gonna save me? And I know, we can all only save ourselves. And just like I watch my two little dogs playfight and scrap on the sofa next to me every night, fastening their teeth around each other’s feet and ears, nipping and growling at each other, so these two wolves fight inside my heart for dominance: ‘Save him or her or them, Mama…..Save yourself, girl……….’