bowl
Author's Choice


bowl
Audio


bowl
Books & CDs




Tales by Category

bowl
Latest Tales


bowl
All Tales


bowl
Psychological


bowl
Social / Political


bowl
Media


bowl
Philosophical /
Spiritual


bowl
Hmmm . . . ?




bowl
Copyright & Use Info


bowl
Permissions



      

THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH

    Once the Spirit and the Flesh were forced to undergo relationship counseling.
    A lifetime of mutual suspicion and often bitter conflict, when they weren’t determined simply to ignore one another altogether, had worn down both to the point where the only thing they agreed upon was that this feuding couldn’t continue much longer without destroying them both. To the Flesh, the Spirit was constantly putting on condescending airs or else drifting off into hazy speculation meant to hold the Flesh at a distance. To the Spirit, the Flesh sought to embarrass it at every turn by indulging in mindless pleasures from the inane to the utterly revolting. 
    Relations between the two had reached such a pass, in fact, that even finding themselves in each other’s company was a trial. While their only relief on those occasions when either hinted at “ending it all” increasingly lay in Prozac for the one and tying on a week-long souse for the other, anything that would deaden the pain suffered by both.
    Given this history, relationship counseling was, in itself, risky business. So much could go so wrong so quickly, beginning with the demand each made that the other be strip searched upon entering the first session. To such a perilous state had trust between the Spirit and the Flesh fallen.
    It hadn’t had to be this way. The two of them didn’t have to travel down this road. There’d been plenty of chances early on to get it right. The Spirit could have shown a little more understanding, and the Flesh could have insisted a little less on its own needs. But like a scab that itches and itches until scratching makes it a scar, their differences proved just too much and hardened over time into animosities from which there seemed no respite.
    Now they found themselves on opposite sides of a polished table that each stared down into so as to avoid looking the other in the eye. While an appointed counselor sought to do what they’d proven unable to achieve on their own. 
    There sat the Spirit, trying to project self-confidence over the outcome of the process without appearing aloof and unfeeling. This effort proved more difficult than the Spirit had anticipated, however, and not simply because of the indignity of finding itself in a situation it considered demeaning. Matters wouldn’t come to such a pass if the superiority of the Spirit over the Flesh that so many publically proclaimed were as honored by them in private. But no, turn out the lights, and high-mindedness went dark just as quickly, everywhere. 
    More of a distraction at the moment, however, were the waves of nausea surging within as the Spirit struggled against its deep but unacknowledged claustrophobia, unable to turn from the mirrored threat in the shiny table top as the walls oozed closer and the ceiling sagged. A Spirit must have room to breathe! Freedom to soar! It took all the increasingly distraught Spirit’s powers of self-control to summon a show of sang-froid and keep from crying out, “Where have all the windows gone?!”
    Across the table slouched the Flesh in its own funk, troubled by growing anxieties over what this forced counseling could portend for the two of them. Its own concerns were all of a piece, by contrast to those of the Spirit, whose attention seemed scattered all over the place. The Flesh might well have yielded to the temptation to exploit its greater unity-of-self relative to the Spirit’s present turmoil. But any move to gain from this temporary advantage, it feared, came with the danger of upsetting the delicate balance they’d at least managed to maintain through all their difficult patches up till now.
    How would people recognize the Spirit without the Flesh against which they’d come to define it? And for the Flesh, wasn’t such a separate definition just as perilous? They were an “item” in the eyes of the world and thus in perpetual need of one another, whether they liked it or not. Who would take seriously the very existence of either of them if asked to accept the other’s reality on mere sayso? These days, being taken seriously as the real thing was hard enough already, what with all the spiritual poseurs and Internet exhibitionists out there clamoring for attention. And getting it.
    The Spirit and the Flesh had long since settled for a testy bond of convenience, there was no denying, and yet neither of them was seriously hampered by that fact despite their ceaseless friction. And whatever others might think about them individually or as a twosome wasn’t necessarily the truth, nor of much importance really. More often than not, what the public saw as “Spirit” and “Flesh” was what it wanted to see, so each was at liberty to pursue new yearnings and new attachments with a view to a more satisfying life for itself and more freedom for the other. It might appear as though the Flesh gained most from this open arrangement at times and at times the Spirit did. Yet time itself was a great equalizer and didn’t play favorites in the long run. Why not leave time to sort things out, then? What need did the two of them really have for this unwelcome mediation?
    Just at this moment the relationship counselor gave both the Spirit and the Flesh a start with a loud clearing of the throat, followed by a self-assured “Okay now, here’s what I propose.”