To my children,
Back in the day, Socrates had a daemon – a sort of guardian spirit. It didn’t keep him out of jail (actually I think it may have got him into it) but it did tell him what NOT to do. Thusly,
…a voice is present with me, a certain agency of God, somewhat divine…Now this began with me from my childhood ; a certain voice, which always, when it comes, turns me aside from that which I am about to do, but never impels me to do anything.
So a sort of compass that tells you the direction you shouldn’t go in – and nothing else. Useful, huh?
I too have a daemon. I’m pretty sure it’s not divine – it’s probably all the neglected bits of my brain putting stuff together and going ‘hey, how about this for a theory!’ – but for what it’s worth, it’s worth listening to.
It tells me when something is NOT a good idea. I always listen – and then I often ignore it, being the sort of person who does what they want anyway, so there! When this ends in disaster – as it usually does – that’s how I know it was right. It told me not to take up with Mr Cheating Bastard. Sometimes, it stops me telling certain people things I shouldn’t – and that’s an achievement, because I normally tell everybody anything. It tells me not to follow my friends over cliffs (or on motorbike rides, or to rave parties, or ‘who’s a chicken’ scenarios). Sometimes, it’s a party pooper.
Still, I have learned over this half century that if I get a ‘feeling’ something’s not right, I shouldn’t discount it. Ok, I might go ahead anyway – but I’m going to keep my eyes wide and the back door open behind me. This may not end well. When it doesn’t, I’ll be ready.
I bet you have this daemon too. In fact, I think everyone does (except real idiots – I do know a few of those. People who date serial killers and invest their life savings in pyramid schemes). So when you hear that feeble tapping inside your brain, and a small voice calling out ‘Erm…excuse me, but I just wanted to give you a heads-up…if it’s alright with you?’ – don’t shut the door in her face and pretend you’re not home. Pause for a minute and think. Is this cowardice…or is this instinct? Most of all – trust yourself.
Cowardice never killed anyone, but ignoring your instinct, well. Of course, in Socrates’ case, it was his instinct and not cowardice that got him executed – but then, his daemon wasn’t bent on self-preservation, but on doing the Right Thing. Now it’s getting far too complicated, so I will leave you with this thought. Which would you rather be, good or dead?