- Education and Science
The Flesh is Weak
The Battle Between My Two "Selves"
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41.)
As anyone who has read a few of my articles knows, I am not exactly a mainstream Christian. But I must admit that The Bible has some great lines. This statement supposedly made by Jesus shortly before his death makes an observation, however, that is hardly unique to Christianity. All major religions deal on some level with the struggle of humanity to do what is right and overcome our human frailty and moral weakness. I often feel, in fact, that I have two selves. There is the rational, noble “me” - the spirit - that knows what I should be doing in most situations and is able, sometimes, to gain insight into my own behavior and look beyond purely selfish interests. This noble self, however, gets frustrated with the messed up shell - the flesh - that it is forced to inhabit. This shell, or second self, consists of the hard to control parts of my body and brain, and it has some annoying habits: constantly getting tired and hungry; sometimes being sick or injured; generally looking out for itself; and getting depressed, distracted, or irritated at times, often for no good reason.
I have always been a semi-insomniac, and it is not uncommon for me to wake up at about three (or four or five) in the morning and struggle to fall back to sleep. Things are especially bad during episodes where I get hungry a little too early and my stomach decides to start grumbling. The idea for this hub actually came to me during one of these episodes. There I was, trying to get back to sleep, and my brain decided to start thinking of a new writing idea related to my insomnia. It was at this point that my rational, noble self started to get pissed off:
“OK, first of all, it is bad enough that you need to sleep for a few hours every day. Then, when given the opportunity to perform this nightly ritual, you, this sleep-demanding body, decided to wake up for no good reason. Then, of course, you started making more demands by asking for another annoying basic need: food. Why the hell can’t you have a normal metabolism like everyone else? We just crammed some fatty food down your throat not six hours ago. So quit whining. And now, because this body can’t get a clue, the hard to control part of the brain has kicked in. Look, there will be plenty of opportunity to figure out new writing ideas at a reasonable hour, and I promise that first thing tomorrow, I will try to figure out why you, this brain that I am forced to inhabit, have been feeling a little down lately. So listen stomach, brain, and any other body parts that are thinking of getting out of line: shut the hell down for at least a couple of more hours and get that sleep that we all know that we need. If we don’t, you will all be dragging me down tomorrow in my attempt to bring about some degree of reasonable thinking and behavior.”
This reasonable argument didn’t really work at first. My brain kept composing, and my stomach kept rumbling. (Apparently, my bladder also felt left out, but I will spare you the details.) So I woke up and turned to that basic late night staple food, cereal, in order to ease my hunger pangs. The rational brain was then able to fight back the urge to get on the computer, and I – or should I say we – decided to give sleep another shot. Apparently, it worked, and the next thing that I knew, it was a couple of hours later. Then, I must have drifted off again. Suddenly, it was 7:15, and it was clear that the morning ritual of getting the kids off to school was going to get a late start. We got them there just a few minutes late, and the morning was now free to get these annoying thoughts down on computer.
I could probably write more on this topic, but it’s starting to get late. I also feel a bit of that late night snack urge coming on. If it wasn’t for the time that I waste eating and sleeping, I could get a hell of a lot more done. Damn flesh.