“My principal anguish and the source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh”, wrote the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis in the prologue to this novel, ‘The Last Temptation.’
I see myself often in these words, and in the novel itself. Through school and home, I understood diligence, discipline and a desire to delay gratification. Opening Christmas presents took days. Certain foods or drinks were for specific times of day either before or following a certain meal. Such living bred qualities in me I hold dear. I’m trustworthy in the workplace. I don’t allow others to pick up my slack. I appreciate what I have.
But what of the disorganised, tangle of life? Where does the above fit in with that? The ability to let go of the need to plan and foresee all stages of my life has been the source of some of my happiest times. Impulsive, and frankly ridiculous, romantic decisions have been made. In the workplace, I’ve found myself fully focused and mentally unburdened in the middle of large groups of pre-teens as we sat on the floor, deciding what the fossilised poo in my hands told us about the Viking diet.
So, to those times where both aspects of myself collide. The spirit, with its desire to move purposefully toward an eventual meeting with God, and the body, which longs to feel life as it happens, whichever direction it may move in. Last week this manifested itself in a morning at Tararua Ki Paraparaumu. One by one, the young tamariki were lovingly pushed in front of the lens, leading to a situation where half a dozen adults were cajoling, joking, laughing just behind my right shoulder in a vain effort to help me get the shots I wanted. It wasn’t my usual working method. I also didn’t need the batteries I had charged, the reflectors I had brought, or the location I had considered. But it worked. And it was fun. Fun in a sense that everyone understood and accepted the imperfections of life, but enjoyed themselves regardless.