Socrates considered it a gift, an inner voice he adhered to without question in all matters. It never directed him, but merely warned of unforeseen danger and poor judgment. Plato understood there existed a spirit separate from man but assigned to him throughout his lifetime, rather like a guardian angel. Some psychology purports that in our individuation –a development toward wholeness– this power assists us in overcoming obstacles. Ironically, this protective force may also summon stumbling blocks –job downsizing or illness– that rouse us to the edge of our known, adhered to convictions and routines. As individuation matures, we witness a truer identity of personal strength, passion and vision for life’s purpose which often involves risk, a drive toward the untaken path and trust that soul’s life work is in process. Who or what orchestrates this destiny? Could it be what the ancients described as our daimon, an invisible numinous presence, divine urge, deep intuition?
I recently encountered Christopher in a social group at a local eatery. His quiet nature belied his daring story of leaving behind work as a successful attorney in the east for a more enriching experience in the northwest. Not only did he brave a significant life change, but discovered he also needed time for personal exploration every two years. Without excuses or apologies and offering thoughtful warning to his employers, he readies for departures to whichever destination calls him. I imagine this is how he soothes his soul, governs his artistic expression and allows universal intelligence to play itself through him. Remarkably, I was in touch that night with three other people who were living and loving what they do, pursuing what moved them with less heed toward making big dollars.
My youngest son personifies the phrase “living out loud.” His personal strength is robust, his passion luminous. Boarding a helicopter with several other courageous thrill seekers he landed (more than once) atop a peak in the Purcell mountain range of British Columbia, with a plan to ride –as in snowboard– the summit. Imagine “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” invoking a scene of sparkling “blower” snow, azure skies, scalloped downhill tracks, speed, and exhilaration. Sacred, untouched nature. I didn’t need to board that chopper -nor would I have the guts- to feel stirred by the magic of those moments. Watching his video journal generated tears of amazement and a constant verbalization of “oh my god; oh my god.” Colin’s divine urge to really be in this world through epic adventure and subsequent artistic portrayal of it, incites my spirit. He models a life led by daimon.
Thomas Moore describes the daimon as a primal, creative urge, perhaps directing our character, style and destiny. Living with this principle often requires whimsy, risk-taking, mysterious spontaneity. Some even call it crazy. English novelist, Margaret Drabble, declares “when nothing is sure, everything is possible.” Stepping outside our “box” isn’t easy for many people; others consider this their norm. When the daimon pounces on the psyche and opens a gateway to the soul rousing and cajoling, “something incredible is waiting to be known.” I imagine the scientific brilliance of Carl Sagan spurred on by his daimon’s impulses. In my more modest and less systematic life, I simply remain alert to signs, be true to my intuitive creative impulses and ready myself for changing course when directed . After all, possession could well be nine tenths of who we are.