lone wolf
Once upon a time there was a lone wolf. All of his life he had been free, independent and secure in the knowledge that he was a wolf (and a fine one at that) despite the opinion of certain other wolves.

One day, in about his 30th year of "wolfness" and appropriate to nothing, a thought came to his mind. Am I really a wolf, or am I just all alone? Is what I take as "being a wolf" really the nature of a wolf -- or have I fed my own fantasy for long that I only believe myself to be a wolf?"

The wolf snarled around for a bit -- managed to scare a few birds and startle a few rabbits. Then he looked into the water, growled mightily at his reflection and was impressed by the sight. But he remained uncertain as to whether he was really a wolf. "A housecat with the delusion of being a wolf could growl at the water and see a wolf growling back."

The wolf, being proud as are all wolves, snuck up to the back door of a Chinese wolf monastery and waited for a true priest-wolf to venture out. He would not dare go in the front door of the den and start baying for all to hear "am I a wolf or a housecat?!!!"

A proper master-wolf eventually ventured out and the lone wolf cornered him. He told the master what he thought he knew about his own "wolfness" and what he thought he understood to be the nature of his beast. Finally, he asked the master straight out "Am I a wolf or just a common housecat."

"Well," said the master, "consider and answer me this. Then I can help you discover your truth -- Who is it that cries 'wolf'?"

The lone wolf hung about the back of the monastery and contemplated for a bit. He watched the various priests come and go for a while. He thought up several very "wolfish" answers for the master -- but knew that if he had to think he had not seen the true nature of his beast. One day as the wolf napped, the priest wolf came out of the monastery and startled the lone one awake, saying sharply "answer your question now! Do not hesitate!"

Startled, the hairs standing straight on his neck and back, the lone wolf spun toward the noise and snarled the first thing that came to his mind.

"Yes," said the master-wolf, "you appear to be a wolf. But then, I may be nothing but another housecat."

Comfortable at last, the wolf knew the truth. He was indeed a wolf. He still hangs about in the yard of the monastery. He remains essentially still alone, but sometimes takes part in the activities of the pack. At times he now considers another wolfish question.

What was your true face before you were born?