In David Brooks’ The Second Mountain – A Quest for a Moral Life, he writes about the daemon.
What Is the DAEMON?
“A daemon is a calling, an obsession, a source of lasting and sometimes manic energy. The daemon identifies itself as an obsessive interest, a feeling of being at home at a certain sort of place, doing a certain activity. There’s often some core issue that obsesses a person and they scratch at it for their entire lives.”
Brooks talks about “leading the kind of life that keeps your heart and soul awake every day.” There is a beauty in that as the daemon is found deep within one’s psyche and is profoundly different for everyone.
Mr. Brooks continues on to say that we as humans “are trying to find that tension or problem that arouses great waves of moral, spiritual and relational energy.”
If you have been blessed to find your daemon early in life, though you’ve seen struggle your journey has been more fulfilling.
The seeds of my daemon were planted early and have been pruned, cultivated, and honed over time. Anyone who has known me for much of the last 25 years knows that I have had a “stewardship perspective” on finances – it hasn’t faltered.
In my understanding, everything around money – how we earn, share, save, invest, protect, and spend it – needs to be based on the premise that it is not ours in the first place. We have been entrusted with the gifts and talents of earning or receiving it from outside of ourselves.
We then have responsibilities in how we give, save, invest, protect, and spend it throughout our lives. There is so much that is broken in how we handle money and so much room for healing and growth.
As I head toward my fall season of life, it is the opportunity to walk alongside people in “doing their dollars differently” that stirs my soul and keeps me fired up.
When it comes to retirement, the financial services industry and the media tout us to build up those buckets of money in order to reach that perceived finish line.
Have we, as a society, lost touch with our daemons because of an excessive economic perspective? Moving away from work and into the life of personal ease has been the traditional trajectory, but is it the path that will lead to better relationships and communities or impact our world for the better?
Having financial resources is not about having the freedom “from” something – the absence of restraint. “I no longer have to go to work.” It is about having the freedom “to do” something meaningful. “I have the opportunity to dedicate and commit myself to…” What sets your heart on fire?
We will find greater fulfillment in life when we look at using our resources, at any point, to support living out what David Brooks calls “fierce commitments.” It is much more than pursuing materialistic pleasures and pastimes. And that is the paradox in our privilege. To get a better perspective check out the Global Rich List.
“When we are well-off, we chase temporary pleasures that actually draw us apart. We use our wealth to buy big houses with big yards that separate us and make us lonely.” The four areas of fierce commitments noted in the book are vocation, marriage, philosophy and faith, and community.
I have been encouraged and convicted by this book. I want to build on my wins in certain areas, do the necessary soul searching in areas that I desire to change, and keep climbing.
I want to make sure my financial decisions support my “fierce commitments.” How do you want to unleash your daemons and live in your financial integrity to support them?
What is your daemon? How do you live to support it? What do you do to enrich your life and that of others? Do you look to fill your buckets, and how important is that to you? Please share in the comments below.
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