Lucas Weismann

Every Soul is for Sale

Did I ever tell you about the time I met the Devil on the road?  It’s true.  I did!  Well-dressed chap on the side of the road.  Small goatee, suspiciously cloven feet, faint smell of campfire… Anyway, I was tired so I sad down next to him.  “Ho, Old Scratch!” says I, to show him I’m on to him and not interested in any of his tricks.

He nods to me and moves aside to make room on the log on which he was sitting.  Well, not being ignorant I’m ready to make the sign of the cross or quote a scripture at him at the first sign of trouble.  But he just sits there, as if I’m nothing more than any other traveler.  Finally he looks at me and says, “Well?  Aren’t you going to introduce yourself?”

This has me at a loss, as it would you I’m sure.  That’s the one thing I couldn’t have expected him to say.  “You mean you don’t already know? I asked.

“What?  You famous?” He asked.

“No,” I said, “I just thought you knew these sorts of things.  In all the old stories you-“

“Bah, stories,” he dismissed them like he was waving away a bothersome fly.  “Stories are troublesome things, can’t trust ‘em.”

“Huh.”  I thought about all the stories I’d heard of an evening and realized that more often than not they were more than just exaggerated.

“Stories.  I suppose in the stories I’m out to get your soul and trick you out of it right?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Hmph.  That would be the ones that get around.  As if no one ever went though a time when they were a bit of a jerk.”

I had sympathy for him at that point, for I remembered a time when I myself had been the subject of scurrilous rumors.  Then I imagined what it must have been like these last 5000 years the priests tell us the world has been around.  I told him my name and asked him his.

“Lucifer,” he said, “Not that anyone asks any more.  They just call me Satan or Deceiver or any number of other insults and eventually my temper gets the better of me.”

“Must be awful,” I said.

He nodded.  “You’re the first person that hasn’t tried to ward me off with the sign of the cross or quoted scripture at me.”

“Yeah, that would be rude.”

“It’s always ‘begone deceiver’ this and ’get thee behind me that’.  I mean, if someone has a nice posterior or flattering jeans I don’t mind, but it gets so old.”

“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”  I asked.

“Go ahead,” he replied.

“What do you do with them?”

“What?”

“With the souls.  What do you do with them?  The ones people sell you I mean.”

He looked tired.  “You too?  What the hell would I do with souls?  I have no use for them.  Besides you can’t be separated from yours.  Not until death!  Can’t happen.”

“But what about…”

“Can’t happen.  That Faust thing is just a load of fiction.  Hell, I can’t even get back into Hell because I can’t find the keys.”

“Hell has keys?”

“Of course it does.  You think I want to go letting it open with all the murderers and demons and bad guys running around there?”

“Huh, I never thought of it that way.” I said

“Ugh and the smoke.  I can’t get it out of my clothes no matter how much I wash.”  I remembered my grandpa’s sweaters and how even after he quit smoking they always smelled like cigarettes.

“Sounds rough.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“So you don’t buy souls?”

“No.  Course not.  I was just sore at my dad for taking me off the angel choir to babysit a bunch of delinquent humans for all eternity.  You have no idea how terrible the company was for awhile.  Out of boredom I started trying to attract people I’d want to spend time with.  You ever wonder why there are so many musicians in Hell?”

“Because they sold you their soul?”

“No… because the music filled them to the point where there was nothing left.  No room for anything else.  They resonated with the divine music of the spheres and as reward, Dad sends them to me.  All the greats are there.  Even some of the really good gospel musicians.”

“Even the gospel ones?  How come?”

“Because they loved music more than they loved what their music was about.  Dad hates that.  He thinks everything has to be about him.  All the time.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.” I said.

“Of course it’s fair” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “Dad said it, so by definition it’s fair.”

“This is very illuminating.” I said.

He actually laughed at that point.  “Well it ought to be.” He said.

“What?” I asked.

“My name is lucifer.  Means morning star.  Or Light bringer.  Illuminating.  Get it?”

“Oh!” I said, comprehension dawning.

“That’s actually my job.”

“It is?” I asked.

“Yep,” he said.

“My job is to show people the light.  Teach them things.  Things they might miss otherwise.”

“What about all the punishments in hell?”

“Teaching too.  Dad was really old-school about it.  Wanted fire and brimstone.  I asked, ‘why not have some rehabilitation classes and reincarnate until they get it right?’ He just said it wouldn’t work and that it was better to start with something pure and clean.”

“His ways are mysterious” I said.

“He’s impatient and hates admitting improvements could be made.  That’s why he tried to keep a lid on evolution for so long. Everyone brings up the bad stuff, but I ask, what about the good stuff?”

“Good stuff?”

“Yeah!  Good stuff.  Like giving Eve the apple.”

“Good?  That got them kicked out of paradise.”s

“Nah, they knew what would happen.  I told them.”

“Yeah, but how could they know what it would be like?  I mean, he said ‘don’t eat’ and I said, hey.  You eat this, you’ll know right from wrong and be able to make your own decisions.  I helped them to find free will.”

“But we have to work now.” I countered.

“Instead of what?  Being two birds in gilded cages, they became to adults.  Free and able to choose your destiny and do more than just sit in a garden eating and lounging about?”

“Okay,” I said, “What about Job?”

“What about him?”

“What about the fact that you tortured that poor man.”

“Hey I get it.  I say in passing that he wouldn’t be so loyal if he wasn’t being protected from harm.  Right?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s not what I said.  What I said was, Job probably wouldn’t be so cheery if you treated him like you treat me.  I was griping and next thing you know God is ordering me to kill Job’s wife.”

“Really?”

“Really.  Look none of that really matters, you know?  All that matters is this.  Every soul is for sale.  You will sell it.  But not to me.”

“What?” I asked.  “Who wants to buy then?”

“You do.  You buy it with every action of every day.  It’s the energy you have to spend becoming who you are.  The only question you have to ask is this?  Would you rather sell your soul at a high price to get something you want, or sell it at a low price to get something you don’t want?”

I thought about this for a minute.  “Are you talking about not wasting my time?”

“Well, no time is wasted really- otherwise you’d have some left over at the end.  I’m talking about spending time on something worth the value of your soul.”

“You mean like practicing an instrument to become a musician?”

“Right, but it’s only compared with the relative cost of another way to spend time that the value can be measured.

“So, watching television for 30 minutes compared with practicing an instrument.”

“Exactly.  It’s like buying something with cash versus buying it with-“

“Credit.  Oh I see.  So, you’re saying I should only spend time on things that will get me what I want?”

“No, no, no.  You’ll have to spend time on other things too, after all you need to eat.  But that extra time.  The time you have to find your passions.  That’s the time that usually gets sucked up with trashy novels, re listening to crappy pop music you have memorized and tv-reruns you’ve seen a thousand times.  All of that is low effort, instant-low calorie return.  Just bad economics.”

“You know prince of darkness as guidance counsellor isn’t what I expected.”

“You and me both,” he said with a sigh.  “You have a lot more opportunity than I did.  You can literally go to the moon if you put in the effort and sell your soul to physics.  Me?  I had to choose between Prince of Darkness, lord of hell and tempter of souls, or leader of the angel choir”  at this, he folded his hands mockingly.  “Trust me, with all its problems, this world is still better than it ever has been and you have more choice than ever.”

“Well, Mr. Morningstar, this has been enlightening.  Thank you for lighting my path and giving me a rest.” I said.

“Of course.”

“I feel like I could go out and take over the world!” I said with enthusiasm.

“You can if that’s what you want to sell your soul for,” he said with a wink.  “Just promise me you won’t sell it at a price less than it’s worth.”  And he extended his hand.

“It’s a deal.” I said and shook his hand in good humor.  Then, I walked down the road feeling strangely lighter than I had before heading off to make my mark on the world.

(To hear what happened when I ran into the prince of darkness at a later date, click here)

On the Noble Art of Setting Goals

Setting a goal is like getting a map and compass to orienteer your way to your desired end.  In another section, I’ll talk about the value of a mentor or teacher and we’ll see how much easier it can make things.  After all, asking for directions (though a possible blow to the ego, can help us get where we’re going better than having no one to ask).

The nice thing about goals as opposed to physical maps is that they don’t really have to correspond to physical reality as strongly to be useful.  Again, if I have no wings, no fitness goals will make me strong enough to generate enough lift to fly.

Here are the features that distinguish a goal from a wish or unrealizable desire:

Possible – Again, no flying under your own power as a human, but… if we adjust our expectations of what human flight looks like to include mechanical contrivances?  Now flight is a potential goal.

Achievable – A goal must have a clearly stated “win state”.  You need to know that you achieved the goal.  That means working on the clarity of your vision so that you know exactly what your desire looks like.  The fewer words you need to define your goal, the more likely it is you can achieve it.

Time-Sensitive – You need to set an amount of time in which you intend to complete your goal.  This will give you a sense of urgency, as well as help you for when you need to set the intermediary steps that will help break your goal into bite-sized chunks.

This is a hugely under-valued part of setting goals and one of the most important.  A warning though:  Urgency will add stress to your life.  This is only a bad thing if you think that stress is something to be avoided.  Stress can be quite beneficial, as with the case of building muscle via working and stressing the tissues, which become stronger and allow you to do more later.

One technique I learned from my father can be used to great effect: adding a non-goal-related reward for achieving your goal on time.

For instance, if I did X pushups with good form in a row, we would go out for Ice Cream.

You can do this for yourself, or better… with a friend.  Then when they ask, why you’re doing the fun thing, you can tell them about the goal you’ve accomplished and reinforce the positive feelings associated with accomplishing what you’ve set out to do.  

It is more useful if the reward is something special that you wouldn’t normally take the time or expense to do.  For instance, if you always have a wednesday coffee date with someone, then taking them for coffee on wednesday isn’t much of a reward.

Taking a groupon for a spa or going away for the weekend might be a good idea, depending on the size of the goal.

Also, the goal’s reward should not undermine the work you did to accomplish the goal.  For instance, if your goal is to lose weight via improved health habits and exercise, staying home to eat cake and watch a movie is a bad reward.  It will reenforce the idea that cake = reward and exercise = punishment.

A better reward might be getting a new outfit (second-hand if you’re on a budget) to reward the work.  Then, you’ve earned it and solved the problem of your now-baggy wardrobe.  Plus, you’ll be amazed how great you look in your new (or new-to-you) outfit.

***

It is at this point that I should stress (hehe) the importance of taking small steps if you’re new to the goal-making habit.  This can be done in two ways.  

1) Make small goals- this is a habit and you’ll be tempted to overdo it and take on more than you can cope with at the beginning.  Consistency and teaching you to associate goals with positive feelings of success is going to make building this habit a lot easier.

2) if you have a large goal, break it into manageable bite-sized chunks.

On How to get what you want.

In life there are three ways to get what you want.

1) Adjust your expectations.  You can’t always get what you want, so one of the ways you can is to realize you want what you have.  That’s a good aim in situations where you need to adjust your expectations.  I want to fly by flapping my wings, but since I have no wings, I need to adjust my expectations to fit reality.

2) You have to know what you want.  This is sort of the literal version of a lot of the “manifesting your bliss” type advice you hear, but this doesn’t have the lens of spirituality.  Here’s the deal:  In life, there are opportunities around you all the time.  Most of us are too busy with little things in life or don’t know that we might want something and so we’re not looking for it.  Then those opportunities pass us by and we missed our chance. 

We can flip this script.  By knowing what you want and focusing on it for a few moments (as a starting point not an end).  You start to notice the opportunities around you.  The clearer you see what you want, the further from you your desired end can be and still exist within reach.

To one using their logic backwards one could think:  I really, really wanted something to eat as I walked down the road and ‘lo I manifested the apple tree as I came around the corner.  No.  No you didn’t.  You used the desire of nourishment to focus your mind and prime you to see food as you came across it.

In fact, if you’d broadened your mind to include grubs and crickets, you might have eaten sooner (principle 1 in action).

If you had desired specifically a pear, you might have walked by and thought the apple not worth your time.  Sometimes gaining what you can now with the apple, in order to keep yourself going until your pear arrives is the best option. 

This is obvious in the case of a hungry person and food.  Less obvious when the ends we seek become more complex.

3)  Set a goal.  This is taking steps down the road toward a known likely end.  In example 2, we’re still opportunistic and so, it’s a matter of chance whether you’re going in the right direction.  Perhaps you walked the wrong way and found only twigs and branches or a desert.  More on goal-setting in an upcoming post.

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