Days on the Road
One day, Grandmother felt a chill in her bones and sensed the end was near. She called Grandson into her lap, covered them both in blankets, and began the story of Wolf and Songbird.
“Many will tell you these animals can’t coexist”, she said. “But how two such different creatures came to depend on each other is one of life’s most beautiful friendships..."
All his life, Wolf hunted alone. His strength and cunning were unmatched in the forest, and his howl could make fur and feather stand on end from miles away.
But Wolf’s strength made Man jealous, and they began setting traps for him. Wolf went from hunter to hunted; his silver coat went mangy, and he became hunched and fearful.
One day, Wolf awoke to a beautiful sound.
He followed the noise to a clearing, where he spotted a small yellow bird high up in a tree.
‘Bird,’ Wolf growled. ‘What is this you’re doing?’
‘Singing!’ Songbird replied.
‘That is a waste of time and strength’, Wolf frowned. ‘It does not bring you food, or a safe place out of the cold .’
‘But it brings me joy!’ said Songbird, swooping away.
Wolf felt a pang. A longing he’d never known before filled his heart.
‘Wait,’ he barked, bounding after the yellow speck in the sky. He offered a deal: ‘You come down and teach me to sing. And I promise never to eat you, and to keep you safe from harm.’
Songbird settled on a branch and peered down at panting Wolf with bright, seeing eyes. ‘You will never sing, just as I cannot hunt. You could eat me in a moment!'
She laughed at the thought.
'Then again,' she mused, 'it IS awfully lonely up in the sky...'
Songbird cocked her head, an idea taking shape.
"If you will protect me and keep me company, I can spot the traps laid for you from high above, that you are too close to see. I can point you to the fairest meadows and the coolest streams.’
As Wolf pondered this, Songbird added: “and knowing I am safe, my singing will only grow in joy and beauty.”
And so, the deal was struck.
Songbird lifted her wings, and Wolf got to his feet. As they journeyed together, she pointed out traps, and he chased away those who would harm her.
And she sang, and his heart swelled.
Grandmother fell silent. Grandson's face was screwed up in thought.
Finally he could take it no longer, and blurted out: "But Grandma, which one is right?"
"Wolf, or Songbird? Is it better to be safe and secure, or to be free and joyful?"
"Ah," Grandmother smiled. "It's a trick question."
And here she raised the blanket to cover both of their heads, and whispered in his ear:
"The real question is... how can you be both?"
Each of us has a wolf and a songbird within us.
W O L F is the part of us that craves security, resources, independence, and the predictability of staying within one's comfort zone. Wolf sees the world as a potential threat, and his role within it as competing to survive and stay safe.
S O N G B I R D is the part of us that craves freedom, self-expression, beauty, connection and meaning. Songbird sees the world as abundant and kind, and her role as collaborating with others to make the most of this one wild and precious life.
Many of us have absorbed the assumption that these two drives cannot be met at the same time; that Wolf and Songbird cannot co-exist in harmony.
We either go through life catering to "the Wolf at our door," frantically gathering resources and ignoring the "Songbird in our souls"; or, we indulge the daydreams of our Songbird, and ignore the practical matters that make up Wolf's domain -- often at our peril.
This either/or mentality shows up EVERYWHERE.
You can either have a positive impact, or you can make good money.
You can either have lots of epic adventures, or you can have a solid career.
You can either reduce your carbon footprint, or you can travel the world.
You can either prioritize your dreams, or you can save for retirement.
And on and on, to infinity.
But what IF... you can have both?
This is the primary question behind Wolf and Songbird: How to transcend the question of either/or, in pursuit of the life you most want to live?
How to feed both the Wolf at your door, and the Songbird in your soul?
In other words, how to live an integrated life -- for the benefit of all?
For us, this quest takes the form of integrating our professional work (Wolf) into a 14,000-mile cycling adventure (Songbird), by pausing in connected towns to sustain our respective businesses 2 days/week.
But we wonder...
what shape will it take for you?