‘The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care.’
– Hugh Macleod
If you were forced to make a choice between living a life of boredom, or one of loneliness, what would your decision be? Would you choose a stifled existence of mundanity in which you are forced to conform to the whims and needs of the masses? Or would you be comfortable in a life of isolation? Could you find comfort in the knowledge that you will forever be without inspiration, surrounded only by the mediocre and the monotonous? Or would prefer a life of seclusion and segregation?
The truth is that you wouldn’t wish to be afflicted by either. If I pushed you into a corner and forced you to make a choice, you would probably shove me back and call me insane. Why would anyone want to make such a ridiculous decision? No matter what avenue you pursued, you would be damning yourself to a life of frustration. And yet, on a subliminal level many of us have already made this choice. I’ll get to explaining why in a moment, but first I want you to ask yourself what you would decide. When your back is against the wall and you’re forced to decide between being a wolf or a sheep, what are you going to chose?
A life of boredom sounds well… Boring. But a life of loneliness sounds heartbreaking. Only a sadist would wish to spend their life utterly alone.
The human brain is preprogramed to pursue a life of boredom over one of isolation. We rely on chemicals and endorphins flooding our mind in order to feel accomplished. We establish friendships, set achievable goals, and pursue larger dreams so that we can succeed and our minds can be flooded with hormones that leave us feeling contented. Mankind is for lack of a better expression; a reward centric species reliant on self actualization and social fulfillment. On a subconscious level, we have a yearning to fit in, so we create communities of like-mindedness and consume products and ideas that fall in line with our beliefs and ethos.
We move like herds of sheep. Not because we are unable to stand alone, but because we are compelled to move together. Our behavior is indicative of boundless successes and our greatest accomplishments as a species are born out of this togetherness. We are all connected, regardless of colour, orientation, gender or creed.
But this herd like attitude can also lead to a lack of originality. When we all move in the same direction, we all think, feel, and act in an identical manner. We believe that we are exposed to beautiful literature because we are told by our peers that something is groundbreaking or unique. We believe in the faux realities portrayed to us on social media because we are afraid to ask questions. And we fail to understand or appreciate truly original thinking because it doesn’t fall in line with the rinse and repeat mentality of the modern era.
We become bored with ourselves and the world we live in, yet are somehow perplexed as to why anyone would dare to create something new and exciting.
Hold on, let’s take a break for a second. I keep throwing out the expression ‘we’ and yet I have never really subscribed to this type of behaviour. In fact, I have never really found my place within society. I’m still a lone wolf wandering adrift amongst sheep. Even after twenty-seven years of trying to understand myself, I am still the loneliest son of a bitch that I have ever known. Not because I am without peers, but because I don’t share the same ideological constructs or accept the same realities as those around me.
When you break down society into the two categories of sheep and wolves I fall firmly into the classification of the later. I would rather die of heartache than live an existence plagued by boredom. I would rather strive towards greatness than settle for the mundane. And I would rather fight for a dream than be handed a bullshit life suffocated by monotony and tedium on a silver platter. When I look at myself as a man and as a writer, I would rather be a fucking wolf than a goddamn sheep.
But in a world as fickle as this how does one find sanctity in loneliness? How does one chase a dream without succumbing to despair and isolation?
…You can’t. It’s not possible to be a wolf and to stand for what you believe in without learning to grift and grind when life gets tough. I am a twenty-seven year-old writer who suffers from anxiety. Why? Because I want to be something far greater than who I am. I push myself to produce and create so hard that oftentimes I find myself frustrated, angered, or crying in a wardrobe. Shitty literature, tacky mass produced music, and shoddy films break my heart. And the fact that celebrity and marketability has replaced talent and hard work feels like an affront to everything that I stand for.
And yet I write. I keep pushing through the loneliness because I believe that I can be better. I believe that through my words I can change the world. When I first started blogging I was an extremely unhappy, and tremendously lost individual. I was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, floating through an existence that left me feeling broken and unfulfilled. But writing saved me. It became a reason to dream, a reason to love, and a passion to live for. Four years later, The Renegade Press has grown into something far greater than I had ever imagined. What started off as a way for me to embrace my inner wolf and peel off the layers of sheep skin that clung to my frame, has now become a medium through which I can connect with like-minded souls who believe that there is more to life and art than boredom and bullshit.
The price that I have paid to make it as far as I have in this industry (admittedly I’m still scratching at the surface) has been huge. At times I am so fucking lonely that I contemplate quitting. Sometimes I pray that I can start over and decide to be a sheep rather than a wolf. I tell myself that I would be happier if I learned to accept rather than question. But then I look at how far I have come, read the kind words of my readers, and look at my name on the spine of a novel and find my courage return. I am a wolf. And when a wolf finds himself backed into a corner he bares his fangs and fights his way out.
If ideological loneliness and heartbreak is the price that I have to pay to be a writer, then I welcome it with open arms. Because even though loneliness can be devastating, it is better to die having spent one day as a wolf than have lived an entire lifetime as a sheep.
115 thoughts on “Wolves & Sheep”
Reblogged this on GUM: Growing Up Millennial.
You didn’t have to back me into a wall to decide between wolf or sheep. I live in loneliness and reject boredom. I am a dragon. I eat sheep.
Thank you for liking my photo, because otherwise I would have never discovered your blog! This is such an interesting post. It gives me something to think about this evening… wolf/sheep… I started to be more a wolf than a sheep 2 years ago. It was a hurting time, but I see many things clearer now. I´m not lonely but more alone than before. If more people turn from sheeps to wolves, why are wolves still alone? Maybe we only have to reveal our innerst wolves to others?
Excellent post. And yes, while the life of a wolf can be lonesome, it is better (in my opinion) than being just one of many mindless sheep.
Powerful post! And I so relate! I’ve accepted that my life is isolated is what is exactly perfect for me in order to create the way I do. I need to be alone in order to “hear” the words I do so I can write. So, all is good. Even though I am alone I am not lonely. ❤
I have always gravitated towards isolation… I find it is less lonely to be alone by yourself than alone in a room full of people. Really great post. I love your writing style.
Even wolves travel in packs.
As Aristotle wrote, the solitary figure is either a beast or a god (and he didn’t really think there were gods among the solitaries); man is a ζῷον πολιτικόν, a political animal, and so cannot ever be solitary). Even the pathologically solitary Raskolnikov from Dostoyevskii’s _Crime and Punishment_ sought out the company of others at the drinking den by some impulse that bewildered him.
What you are really saying is that you are not willing to let the bowstring of Eros settle on some cheap consumer kitch. I don’t see why being solitary will necessarily help. “As iron sharpens iron”, and all that — find people, friends, enemies (who are really just “cruel friends”, as Nikolai Velimirovic wrote), who challenge you, and stimulate you to excellence. We are defined by our loves, not by our solitariness. The masses of Modernity have weak and enfeebling loves, so we must be careful in the company we keep, true — but we must keep company.
Don’t blame sheep for any of this. Sheep get a bad rap. They’re smart, and beautiful. They can live harmoniously with others. Wolves are predators, and need to be killed, or given more land than can really be spared, or penned-in. What did Plato write about overreaching in book two of _The Republic_? It destroys both the justice of the city, and the soul of a person. Did the sheep kill Socrates? No. Wolves did. _Stupid_ wolves.
I think we need better animal metaphors.
Excellent post! I have had to find balance in not coming off like a wolf to appear more agreeable at times, and you just helped me realize each time I adjusted I became a sheep. Which is not me, I’ve always been somewhere in between. Lost….
Thank you for visiting my blog or I also would not have discovered your page. Keep going, your perspective is intriguing!
Even after twenty-seven years of trying to understand myself, I am still the loneliest son of a bitch that I have ever known. Not because I am without peers, but because I don’t share the same ideological constructs or accept the same realities as those around me. <I relate to that alot
As well as that fight between being part of the crowd, or being original, trying to grind the rail between, but rarely finding it. The life of a writer!
Initially, I couldn’t see how this applied to me. I’m neither lonely nor bored. But by the middle of the second paragraph, I knew I had already chosen. Wolf. And sometimes by necessity, Sheep.
When I’m not creating, I’m utterly bored. When I finally get to do this thing I love without interruption, I’m utterly alone.
Balance is good, but to be as successful as I’d like…
I guess I have to tip the scale toward Wolf more often.
Fascinating post. Kudos.
Awesome post, comes at a great time in my life spending this weekend alone, but not lonely on Valentine’s Day weekend. I would like to think of myself as a wolf searching for my pack. It also reminds me of this Native American tale I read about: ONE EVENING, AN ELDERLY
CHEROKEE BRAVE TOLD HIS
GRANDSON ABOUT A BATTLE THAT
GOES ON INSIDE PEOPLE.
HE SAID “MY SON, THE BATTLE IS
BETWEEN TWO ‘WOLVES’ INSIDE US ALL.
ONE IS EVIL. IT IS ANGER,
ENVY, JEALOUSY, SORROW,
REGRET, GREED, ARROGANCE,
SELF-PITY, GUILT, RESENTMENT,
INFERIORITY, LIES, FALSE PRIDE,
SUPERIORITY, AND EGO.
THE OTHER IS GOOD.
IT IS JOY, PEACE LOVE, HOPE SERENITY,
HUMILITY, KINDNESS, BENEVOLENCE,
TRUTH, COMPASSION AND FAITH.”
THE GRANDSON THOUGH ABOUT
IT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ASKED
“WHICH WOLF WINS?…”
THE OLD CHEROKEE SIMPLY REPLIED,
“THE ONE THAT YOU FEED”
Awesome work Chris. Thanks
Regards from a fellow Wolf…
I choose to be a shepherd.
What a great blog. In response I would say, yes, if forced to choose I would rather be a wolf alone instead of a lamb alone in a room full of sleeping people. BUT, if you are strong enough to choose to be a wolf, you can be strong enough to make a better choice for yourself; a shepherd or a dragon or … you. What else can you be?
This is a beautiful post. I totally agree with you.
It reminds me of the book I read, called “The Alchemist”. Like yourself, I much rather be a wolf than a sheep.
I guess that’s the irony of being a wolf. We travel in packs and are still lonely. You can be surrounded by a hundred people and yet be lonely. And sometimes, there is a certain peace in that loneliness.
To be a sheep or to be a wolf?
Right now understanding boredom and understanding lonliness is a mjaor whirlwind for me.
Who wants to end up lonely? But who wants to have a life of boredom?
Neither lonliness satisfies neither does boredom…
Its the heart that is the problem. ..and if the heart was ever to be controlled …then there would have been no sheep and no lone wolves…just us with a smile on our faces …with our hurts thrown away somewhere and have found smiles on our faces just as we see sun in the sky…
But hurt is there….heart is there….pushing back up is also there…and losing our selves evryday is also there in our struggles…so it’s just that…
For when they hurt…nothing makes sense.
But to live…you need to accept. To accept you need to embrace. To embrace you need to let go.
And this the heart doesn’t understand.
Especially the hurt.
No one escapes that….nownthat either makes you selfless or selfish ….
So the less is more…
Ps: I love your posts
I liked this piece but I don’t believe these are the choices. Boredom is a state of mind. I don’t believe in it. Loneliness as well. A choice. Self-inflicted. I am lonely sometimes, being a new widow. I isolate myself sometimes. But I know it’s me. Writing requires engagement with the world around us to fuel our muse.
You liking my latest post got me here. Glad I took the time to read through it.
Dichotomies are dangerous and when pushed, they bite back. I am a maker and when I get to feeling really lonely I have to acknowledge that I want to be affirmed,- not approval, but affirmation, and, in appropriate amounts, that is healthy and not equatde this with sheepishness.
Sometimes I pray that I can start over and decide to be a sheep rather than a wolf. I tell myself that I would be happier if I learned to accept rather than question.
If you are a writer, and not alone for some other reason, that is a silly statement.
I think perhaps this statement wasn’t meant to be taken literally-he is simply saying he feels very lost and alone at times, because there are only a small few to which he can relate. A writer’s words should never be taken as the whole, perfect truth. They are story tellers, Cheers Nicole
I’m sorry to be disagreeable. I very much recognize the language here. My mom saved all those letters and sent them back to me late in her life and I have journal entries I believe to come from the same place. Writers write and makers make. All the rest of the drama is something else. Not to make light of this. It is critical to deal with it is not about being an artist wolf or conforming sheep. Writers write and makers make and the rest is drama.
Very enlightening, I’ve thought about this now and then, especially when I find myself out hiking.
When i read your writing i feel as though you are in many ways a kindred spirit. I too have never really fit, and suffer with anxiety, and have often thought should i be accepting rather than questioning. But then i question that question, which in itself makes me a wolf. I am a wolf. I cant change that. And, in truth, in totally down with being a wolf. It allows me to access the minds and souls of other wolves, which is like fuel to me.
This. I agree with all of it. I feel the exact same, but could never quite find the right analogies. Bravo, to this. It was exactly what I needed to read tonight.
Check out Tribes by Seth Godin.
Chris and followers nice to feel lonely together a moment.
The solution to the problem is neither to be a sheep nor a lonely wolf. What about a pack of wolves. A few individuals sharing the same crave for staying unique. A group made of distinctive entities with a common philosophy.
I chose the same path as you all. Every day I pay the price of staying true to myself but like you every cell of my body and mind refuse the conformity.
No wonder that most choose for boredom rather than loneliness. “Not being part of” is missing out on one of our basic needs of belonging and recognition (see pyramid – Maslow).
On the bright side, there is no artist, bright mind, creative genius who ever settled for boredom. Every tears of loneliness is worth every word you all write.
You writers, you sufferers, you exceptional people, you the pack of wolves.
I feel exactly the same way. Yet while I partially agree with the criticism of the wolf metaphor, I should also like to point out that it is many-faceted. A wolf is portrayed as a predator, but it is also a social animal. There is the metaphor of the lone wolf, contrasted with the one of the pack mentality of wolves. To tell a long story short, a wolf is not simply and necessarily the opposite of a sheep.
What the article gets right, at any rate, is that every person asks themselves, at least at some point in life, where they belong, just to find out that there is not – indeed can not – be a straightforward answer to that question.
I have never thought of it in terms of any of the aformentioned metaphors, however. I have rather felt that I simply do not belong here, for regardless of any resemblances I may bear with my fellow humans, I am nothing like them when it actually matters. The temptation to speak (or rather write, in this case) in metaphors is, doubtless, both irresistible and the only manner of describing the case at hand properly – if this should be possible in the first place, that is to say. The one I have always considered most appropriate is that of drifting through an endless void, with everyone and everything out of reach, an empty space, that is, the veil of which may only once in a while be penetrated by a noise or visual, but never for long, let alone allowing for the establishment of a permanent connection to – whom- or whatever.
After all these years, I have given up hope to find a way out. The only thing for which I still dare hope is that someone may find a way – their way – in.
Thanks for liking one of my posts, because it was a reason why I descovered Your blog. And it is amazing! I really enjoyed reading this article and it forced me to think a lot about my situation.
Thank You once again.
Good luck. 🙂
Brilliant Chris. Your talent as a writer truly is one in a million. You’ve got it-that’s all I need to say.
From a fellow lover of words and spectacular literature.
PS I am going to buy your book.
Thanks Nicole. You are far too kind.
If you do read Midas be sure to let me know your thoughts! I actually just finished the first draft of a follow on effort last week, so I’m really excited to get stuck into some editing and share my work with everyone later on this year.
Hope this finds you well.
I’ll try and make a purchase tonight. Hope it’s for sale on your website.Yes, I will let you know my thoughts…and No, I am never too kind-Just very honest.Your work is unique, sometimes delicate, and violently honest. You share vulnerability…combined with your literary gift, this is a killer combination. Anyway, I’ll stop blowing smoke up your derriere and move on to locate this book of yours…Nicole
Reblogged this on Nicole Martin and commented:
The amazing Chris Nicholas. I love his work.
Funny thing is, we’re often hard wired into who we are… A wolf can’t choose to be a wolf, he is! A sheep sometimes appears to change into a wolf, but that person has found their inner wolf and has given themselves permission to be who they are inside! A wolf who tries to subdue his own spirit in order to fit in with other people becomes terribly unhappy and will never succeed because they breathe the air differently and walk on the earth differently! Hahaha, I tried this many, many times and didn’t succeed… I would then beat myself up inside, telling myself there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t be accepted! Oh, the suffering that led to!
How did I reach a place of inner peace? It took years! Years of learning to love and accept myself, learning to accept my differentness, learning to accept the creative spirit which dwelt inside and which would wake me in the middle of the night to obsessively create or write, learning to love and accept others who might appear to be sheep, but who in reality were trying to find their inner strength to step into their own true role in life!
Finding inner peace also entails accepting the forces and the directions of the creative spirit! I can’t tell you the amount of times that my hand would start to create, and my then second husband would ask: what’s that for? I had no idea! I’d tell him I didn’t know, but my hands knew and when it was time the creative spirit would show my conscious mind what it was for and then I could tell him! Initially he thought I was nuts! Then he started to see the pieces of artwork pop out of my inner pipeline! Then he understood and learned not to criticize!
People given the exact same 24 hours a day will choose to live it completely differently! A couple of years ago my daughter took in a friend who was on the verge of being homeless, and the small two bedroom town house we are living in somehow accommodated 6 kids and 3 adults! I had moved in to help my daughter when her baby was rediagnosed with cancer. During that time Donna lost her job and was relying on my daughter to support us all. Donna spent her time on her phone texting 10 different men on dating websites because she was trolling to find another man to support her (yes, she did find one). She abdicated all household chores for cleaning and child care and because I’m responsible and can’t stand for the kids to live in dirt and squalor, I took care of everything. (Yes, there were many discussions and lectures on our part to her in how she needed to step up, but she saw herself as a victim and if her kids were around told them to hang in, she’d find them a place and they wouldn’t have to suffer with us anymore!)
During that time (over 6 months) I was also looking for a job, (not dating!!) I finished the first edition of my book! So hardship and a lack of space or time can be wildly interpreted by different people! I dug in and just did it while she made excuses for herself. Such is life. We all find ourselves in different situations, and it’s up to us how we choose to see it and what we choose to do about it. As difficult as that time was, and as burdened as I felt, I also chose to let go of Donna’s life and energy, because she walks a completely different path than I and my daughter do. Will she grow to become who she can be? I’ve no idea, I do know this, we were just a small step for her in her life and she will have other teachers. She wasn’t ready to step out of the inner walls she had erected for herself. Do I beat myself up because I had a person who was in my home who I could help, that it was my mission to help? No, because she chose not to! We all have the freedom to choose and are on completely different paths and timetables to each other! A sheep now can discover their inner wolf in ten or twenty years, depending on the amount of time it takes for them to break down the inner walls and heal from those pains.
If the power of your creativity is still forcing you to tears you still struggle with your role! Yes loneliness comes with the role, yes criticism and a lack of understanding on the part of others comes with it, but you have no choice! You didn’t choose to be a wolf! It’s who you are hard wired to be! Learn to love and trust your creative spirit! It will lead you where you need to be! Follow it in peace!
This is such a well-written piece – wow! – please, don’t ever give up writing.
I can certainly identify with what you’re saying, although I don’t think the argument is a binary ‘this or that’ one. For any creative, it helps to identify more closely with wolf than to sheep, but let’s not forget that there are many other species lying within the spectrum. Nor should one identify with a single fixed point, but shift among the poles as life – and creativity – sometimes demands.
It’s not so much a question of ‘belonging’ as of ‘becoming’, and becoming is always fluid.
That’s an interesting comparison for humans. I would totally agree. As a Christian, there is a negative connotation to being a wolf, as opposed to being a sheep. Jesus compared people to sheep, but I think it was because most people are stupid and follow the herd mindlessly…even off a cliff! Sheep are truly stupid animals and need a shepherd. In a scriptural sense I would rather be a sheep who is herded by Jesus than the wolf who clearly is out to eat the sheep…but in an otherwise figurative sense, I would agree with you. I am more of a loner and always have been. I never seem to fit in the majority because I am different. I feel the thorns of frustration in my soul often about some of the same things you do. Crappy movies, mind-numbing lyrics, and the lack of true talent celebrated in culture also annoys me. I feel that I have talents I cannot embrace because the ceiling for marketability is Victoria Secret model height. I started a blog as one simple way to start doing something with my talents. I have little success so far, and I often question my decision to pursue writing. Thanks for sharing your heart in your blog. It makes me feel less alone and motivates me to stay honest and true to myself, even in my writing.
In my depression I am not lonely….I love my aloneness; but, I fled several domestic situations.
I am not sad in my depression either. I am the most optimistic and happy person with the worst depression.
I love the scenario however! 💙💜💚
I completely agree with this entire piece. Very well written. Cheers man.
Hi there, I just read yor post and I hung on your every word. It was great, and very true. I like to be by myself. Don’t know if I could handle either one (boredom or lonliness) for the rest of my life. I love to write too. Writing is what brings me out of a depressive mood. I always feel better when I write! Words, books, anything connected with writing inspires me. Your post was very inpsiring, thank you very much for writing it! Good luck !and keep on writing.! A wolf has grit, and they know what it takes to survive in this world.
This was meant for me to read at this very moment. I feel it in every piece of me. You’re words showed me a glimpse of myself I needed to be reminded of.
You’re writing is so refreshing and inspiring. Never stop.
Being a goat comes to my mind.
Sheep cannot move, inspire, or shift the views of others. Sheep cannot make man contemplate his morals and motives. A struggling wolf leaves a greater print on the world than a self-assured sheep. To dedicate your life to such an art is brave, writing comes from within where demons are most prominent. Not even all wolves have that sort of courage. Love your writing, never quit the path to excellence and settle for mediocrity.
Beautifully written. But don’t lose heart. Wolves mate for life, and often travel in a pack. Perhaps you just haven’t found yours yet.
This resonates with me a lot
Brilliant and thought-provoking article. I’d choose to be a wolf – in many ways I already am one. I’m a loner by nature but not necessarily lonely.
Thanks so much for the like. I’d say I’m a bit of a loner too! I think we are what is referred to as fringe dwellers.
You are funny!
I have been reading your blog and I just think you should know how great your writing is. I’m sure you already know that by now but I hope it never gets old being told it and also boosts you on any mindblock days that you might have. I know this probably means nothing coming from me as I can see you’ve already came a long way. As I am just starting out your writing is similar to what I hope and dream of one day achieving and reading your blogs have really inspired me so I really wanted to say thank you 🙂
Thank you for your wonderfully kind words. It’s an incredible honour to hear that you have found some form of inspiration in my writing. I still consider myself to be in the infancy of my writing journey, so for someone to be motivated by what I have created is amazing!
Love this insightful comparison. I am sitting on the fence on this one – I want the best of both! Have popped it onto my Pinterest board for others to enjoy this rich food for thought.
Thought-provoking. In reality we are neither wolf nor sheep, but human, and therefore more complex and varied than either.
Wanted to share something I heard the other day, being a leader can be lonely. On another note, we need to be with people even still, or there isn’t anything to write about. Keep writing, and consider revising your sheep and wolf theory. Sheep don’t have to be bored, and wolves don’t need to be lonely all the time:)
Amazing thought provoking piece of article. Being a wolf or a sheep can also depend of the stage of your life and people you meet along the way. Good writing. Keep it up. I had a request to make, i really feel inspired by your writing skills. I have recently started my blog, are you interested to write a guest post on my blog? This way my readers can be inspired from your dynamic writing skills. Else, if you can mention my blog in your post, my readers can redirect themselves. Let me know. thanks!
Thank you for your kind words! I’d love to jump across and write something for your site. It’s always an honour and a thrill to be offered an opportunity to spend time writing for another site. If you are still interested just let me know.
Yes I am interested. You can choose any topic inspiration based
Send me your email id. We can thus discuss further on the article post