I’ve just finished the first book in Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underground series, The Darkest Night. Good stuff. As with most firsts in a series, there was a lot of setting up to do to establish the rules of the particular literary road and the elements of the premise, which is pretty original. A group of immortal warriors who opened Pandora’s Box and killed Pandora are cursed to house the demons they released with their fateful act. So, we have a pack of hunky Lords of the Underworld (and one woman) who embody Death, Violence, Pain, Wrath, Disease, Promiscuity, Disaster, Lies, Misery (she’s the female, an interesting choice we’ll explore another time), Secrets, Doubt and Defeat (the final demon, Distrust, was unleashed on an unsuspecting world when his host was killed millennia ago). Each of these Lords battles their demon, some with more enthusiasm than others, and attempts to prevent becoming pure evil. Easier said than done.
Which got me thinking, of course. What a delicious premise—the idea that we must struggle to overcome our baser natures and prevent our descent into depravity. I suspect that some of us embrace the depravity. I know I’ve been sorely tempted myself. Resistance is hard. Resistance takes energy. Giving in is so much easier; it’s like sinking into a warm bed and getting wrapped up in cozy demonic blankets. For a little while at least. Also, as difficult as resistance is, it’s also imperfect. We may choose to resist our demons, but we don’t always succeed in keeping them at bay. And when we fail, instead of feeling good, we disappoint ourselves. And once we slip, we may fall victim to the “fuck it” syndrome. Happens to me all the time.
I’ve given a lot of thought to the whole idea that we do what we don’t want to do and we don’t do what we want to do. It’s the line from the New Testament in Romans, 7:15. How many times have I decided to eschew chocolate, or cookies, or something else that’s going to attach itself to my ass in an undesirable manner, only to be overtaken by gluttony? I’ve written before about my struggles with pride and envy. But the question today is about whether we struggle against our internal demons or snuggle with them.
The truth, for me at least, is that there are a number of my demons that are just plain entertaining. For example, it’s not nice to gossip. But, I’m ashamed to say, I’m not above sharing a slightly wicked bit of information. But not ashamed enough to shut down someone who dishes in my presence. Instead, I’ll offer them a drink and my full attention. I’m also not above embellishing a story to make it more engaging—I’m a storyteller, after all. Although I do draw the line at outright lies. And I enjoyed many extralegal activities in my misspent youth; activities I would happily repeat because they were freaking fun… or were when I was young and more invincible.
And how hard do I really try to resist that chocolate? Or that second glass of wine? Truth be told… my efforts are less than Herculean. How much do I tamp down on my temper when I know unleashing its wrath will get me what I want—even if others are upset in the process? Maybe not as hard as I could, truth be told. After all, it’s one thing to embellish to others, and quite another to lie to ourselves. Just say no to that stupidity.
I think we’re all ambivalent about whether to struggle or snuggle with our demons at times. “Sure,” we tell ourselves, ”I’m gonna fight the really bad ones. For sure if I housed Lies, or Misery or Defeat I would fight for all I was worth.” But is that true? Or is that one more way we snuggle with the demon of Denial—one of my personal favorites? Maybe I’m the only one, but sometimes Lies, Misery and Defeat are quite seductive, and my will to fight quite weak. Those are not good days.
But, as I read about these warriors who host real demons, I was impressed with their forbearance—and embarrassed at my own lack of fortitude. Perhaps I can learn a lesson from the Lords of the Underworld. In fact, I’m sure I can. Sometimes, I find so much truth in fantasy, I’m ready to eschew reality. I tell myself it’s time to close my Kindle and get off the couch. And then I tell myself resistance is futile and dive right back in to read another few chapters. So maybe my struggles are more like snuggles after all.