“Contending with Devils, Bargaining with Demons”

Is a phrase use to describe a situation like this: say for example you work at a company where the bosses of the resource management department are cruel and competitive egomaniacs, and their bosses in turn, in the sales department, are rapacious and barbarous pirates, and you wish to protect your direct reports in the overseas acquisitions department from the depredations of the managers in resources, you may slake their ravenous egos by insulting someone sideways from where you stand on the org chart, in for example, accounting, in order to earn credibility with resource management, so that when push comes to shove, you can defend your direct reports from the brutality of the blood-guzzling flesh-chewers in sales. Wouldn’t it be nice if we dealt with angels or even humans rather than demons or devils, who must be given a shred of flesh to avoid feeding them the whole arm? It would indeed, but it’s not.

Sometimes I worry that I might be a trophic egg, which is not a trophy wife, it is an egg that a creature brings forth to feed its siblings. What kind of mother is that? If a human mother, a bad one, but if the fungus-loving beetle, a good one, bringing forth thirty trophic eggs to feed the three glorious offspring destined to survive.

Is that the sacrifice? To know that sometimes to bargain with demons and contend with devils, one must make the sacrifice called Chod, and make a pile of one’s own heart and brain and organs and put it on a silver dish for them to batten on?

Is that the sacrifice? Wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t demand their sacrifice? Wouldn’t it be better if they only required the willingness, but not the execution, if the demons and devils with their bargains and their contestations, only wanted us to walk up to the cliff’s edge but no further?

Or if the edge of the cliff had another edge, and that had an edge as well, so that even though the earth is slipping away beneath my feet I can still grab something? And dragging myself by that root, or branch, or stem, palms bleeding, I haul my shivery shakey ass onto solid ground and see the VP of sales smiling.

He gives me his hand, old Brad and says “Eric! You’re all right!”


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