I don’t suppose you spend endless time arguing with yourself. Do you? I do.
In my head there are at least two people. They rarely agree. They like to take a good look at every angle of a situation before coming to any conclusion. Sometimes it takes all my energy to get them to tie the same pair of shoelaces. One of them is admirable. She’s gentle, thoughtful, kind, creative, consistent, motivated, truthful, plays the trumpet quite nicely, and is otherwise useful to have about. She can cook, if given time, ingredients, instruction and an easy recipe. She’s a bit scared of giving an opinion, in case it offends, so she is diffident and boring. In fact, she’s often so quiet she can’t be found. More often than not, actually. The other one is – er – more interesting. She’s grumpy, selfish, opinionated, greedy, stubborn, argumentative, wily and extremely lazy. She cannot cook. At all. She’d rather starve. She’d rather you starved, too. She’s a master of disguise and low cunning, so you can never be sure which one of them you are dealing with. And she never, ever, goes away…
The other day I listened to them having a discussion. One of them wanted to do some work. The other one wanted a thing, a thing she’s been wanting for a long time now. It’s a bit of a sore point.
Admirable self (in truly innocent surprise): Oh! That went quite well! Now, what’s next?
More interesting self (snaps): don’t be conceited
AS (blushing): Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to.
MIS (scathing): false humility?!
AS (very sensibly and cheerfully): Time to do stuff. I feel motivated. I think paperwork, playing trumpet and some lunch, yes?
MIS (disobligingly): no. I’m not interested
AS (resigned to self-analysis): You’re very grumpy. What’s up?
MIS (bluntly): I want that thing
Admirable self (brightly): Still? No, that thing is not allowed. I think a nice walk in the fresh air, first, then…
MIS (defiantly): I want it
AS (decidedly): No, you can’t have it. Now, you need to get on with the tax return after a little walk.
MIS (loudly and clearly): want it!
AS (calmly stating facts): I said no. That thing is not allowed. You can’t have it. There’s some chocolate left, you can have that.
MIS (very fast): munch munch
MIS (with greed): more!!!
AS (having anticipated that): Just a little bit, then. And when you’ve finished the tax return, you need to get out that music and check you can play it.
MIS (whinging): I’m tired
AS (firmly): then you can have an early night tonight. Now, work!
MIS (with cunning): you’re definitely tired too. I’m you, remember? I know you’re tired. you’ll mess up all these numbers if you don’t rest, and you’ll have to start again and it will be all your own fault. you know it’s really important to get enough sleep?
AS (patiently): You are grown up. You can do this. It’s only going to take a few minutes.
MIS (more whinging): it’s boring. anyway if I have a nap now you’ll be more productive later
AS (briskly): never mind. It needs doing. Good. Now, music. That isn’t boring, is it? It’s brilliant!
MIS (heavily): Of course it’s boring! It’s orchestral trumpet music with no orchestra and goes dum du-dum-dum-dum. Who are you telling fibs to? Anyway, I want that thing.
AS (as tersely as she is able): I told you, no. That thing is not for you. Anyway, why do you want it?
MIS (enthusiastically): Best Thing Ever!!!
AS (with honesty): Yes, you have a point. But you can’t have it. Anyway, if you got it you’d want something else very soon.
MIS (stubbornly): no I wouldn’t. I want it
AS (actual exasperation): are you a musician or a parrot? You Are Not Having It! Now do something useful!
AS (finding it difficult to concentrate): How about some more chocolate? And look, you could go and buy a new jacket tomorrow. You’d like that.
MIS (not conceding): yes, I’ll have chocolate and a jacket. but you’re only trying to fob me off. I want chocolate AND jacket AND thing. I want them all! now!!
MIS (after eating chocolate, deciding attack is the best strategy): anyway, who says you know everything? you haven’t even checked if that chocolate had palm oil in. how do you know the thing is not allowed? if I get that thing, I bet it isn’t as wrong as you eating palm oil chocolate. I bet it isn’t as wrong as buying a jacket made by slaves paid 000.0001 cent a week using a million litres of water in the production process. I bet it isn’t as wrong as using fossil fuels to go to the shop staffed by underpaid workers. I bet it isn’t really wrong at all. it’s only a matter of perspective and really that thing ought to be mine. in fact…
AS (wearily): Look, why don’t you write a blog. That’s a nice thing to do. You can talk about environmental responsibilities and how, as guardians of this creation, we are meant to check the ingredients list for palm oil and buy from ethical sources and reduce our fossil fuel consumption, right? You can add a bit about the morals of what’s mine and yours and not coveting things, and you could even point out how wrong I am. I might even read it and pay attention. Go on, do something useful.
MIS (childishly): nasty blog. want thing!
AS (with failing patience): Listen, the thing is not for you. You know the reasons for not having the thing, and you wouldn’t want it really, would you? It isn’t nice of you at all, is it? We’ve talked about this before, remember? I’d like you to be right, but you are wrong. You can’t have the thing. Now, be nice and stop making a fuss, will you?
MIS (digs in heels): I want it. don’t care. want thing
AS (at end of tether): you are getting more juvenile every moment. Do you want me to send you to bed?
MIS (scoring points): yes. like bed. want THING!
AS (pleading, tearfully): Can’t you be happy with something else and do some work and play some music and write a blog and stop turning me into a divided personality with unity issues?
MIS (sensing victory): yes, when I get thing. then I’ll be nice, and good, and quiet and work for ever and ever and ever and never argue with me again
AS (stalling): Is the thing that good really? Worth a life’s work? Anyway, I want you to be inspiring and interesting and grateful and loving and kind and learn the entire Bible from memory, please. Except the gruesome bits. And work consistently and sensibly, with well-planned breaks. And achieve everything you ought daily, never shout at anyone again, always cook a good dinner for your family, and get to bed on time every single night. And never spend too much money, eat only moderate quantities of chocolate and never say the wrong thing ever again.
MIS (lying): okay, can do. Thing?
AS (defenceless): Er…no. Sorry you really can’t have it. Ever. Now, about that blog. Can you…
MIS: WANT THING!!!
At this point, the divided personality stopped listening to herself. It may be noted that no worthy blog emerged. We leave the deeper theological conclusions to you.