Imp of the Perverse

July 4th, 2016

I don’t know if I’ve ever posted about my name. I’ve had this blog so long, it’s possible that I have, but something new brought it forward in my mind. I listened to Brimstone Angels by Erin Evans recently, and the devil in the story brought it forward in my mind. Not the magic he offers, or his violent temper, or even the care he develops for the main character, but her attraction to him, and her resistance of it.

I have a quote from E.A. Poe’s story, The Imp of the Perverse, on the sidebar of this website: “There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a plunge.” It’s a story about that little voice inside us, that urges us to jump. Urges us to Do The Thing, even though the rational, logical part of our brain says ‘no, it’s dangerous, it’ll kill you, don’t do it.’

I have that feeling a lot in my life. And I resist it a lot, too. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s very hard. Sometimes I resist it just because the feeling is there, and it is so strong: I shouldn’t do the thing. Why? Because I want to do it so badly.

Does that even make sense to someone who isn’t me? Who wasn’t raised the way I was? Probably, a lot of people were raised this way. I was raised to resist temptation: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I was taught that temptation was evil, something to be avoided.

And so, sometimes, when I give into temptation, I do it with my eyes closed so tightly, that I trip and fall headlong down that cliff. Instead of walking in, eyes (and mind) wide open, so I can control my fall, or maybe even climb down carefully.

I’ve done this with relationships, over and over again. Jumped in headfirst, and hit rock bottom before I even knew I was falling. Some of these were shallow cliffs, with not very far too fall. Some of them, I’m still climbing out of.

I did this with him, too. Jumped in without looking, lost my way, took the wrong path, hit rock bottom. But he jumped in with me, and we helped each other back to our feet, and we still walk together, living our lives, and exploring other cliffs.

Sometimes, I miss my cliff-jumping days. Sometimes, I resent my carefulness, now. Sometimes, I get frustrated that bad-idea snacks are the one of the few temptations I give into anymore. Sometimes, I don’t want to be responsible, dependable, reliable. Some days, I just want to go be a librarian on the Galapagos Islands. Some days, I want to just get in my car and drive til I run out of money. Some days, I wonder if I could get people to pay me to drive around the country doing genealogical research for them. Or fly around the world, too. Some days, I don’t want to be careful, and thoughtful, and considerate. Some days, I just want to jump off a building and be Dauntless. (Guess what book I’m listening to, now.)

 

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