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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Philosopher and The Wolf

The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons From the Wild On Love, Death and Happiness by Mark Rowlands will open your mind and break your heart.  Losing a pet is always heart-wrenching, but losing this wolf, Brenin, will move you.

Rowlands writes of his relationship with Brenin, the wolf that he adopted as a pup and raised until his passing.  The relationship the two had was truly one-of-a-kind and once-in-a-lifetime.  Rowlands tells of what he learned from Brenin and how he was pushed to be the best he could because of this beautiful and trusting creature.  

I grew to love Brenin in a way that a true reader falls in love with a fully developed character.  I didn't want him to move on, but (and this isn't a spoiler--he is an animal and no one lives forever) I understood why he had to leave this world.  That understanding, however, doesn't take away the heartache I felt when his life came to an end.  I loved that wolf; I really did.  

And what a testament that is to not only Rowlands writing, but also to the animal himself and to Rowlands' deep and abiding love for him.  This book was moving, for sure, but it also made me think about life, death, and the philosophy in between.  It made me think about my relationships, my beliefs, and yes, even my dear sweet kitty, Henry. 

What I took away the most from this book, though, was learning to live in the now.   Rowlands writes, "The wolf takes each moment on its merits."  What he means by this is that wolves do not see through moments the way that you and I do; each moment for us humans (or apes, as Rowlands calls us) is punctuated by the past, the present, and the future.  For wolves they live in the here and now.  This doesn't mean the past doesn't exist or the future is too abstract; it means that they live in the "now. here. this." model.  We all have much to learn from Brenin: live in the moment, and let each stand on it's own.  So much easier said then done, but certainly a noble goal to which we can aspire.

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