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It’s always the devil that gets all the credit. In fiction, he’s the one with the booze, the drugs, the women. He is disguised as a handsome man, someone who seems sure of himself and knows all the ways of the world. He can get away with anything.

But is he happy?

He probably is, that’s the annoying thing. He has certainly luck on his side. A bit like Gladstone Gander, Donald Duck’s lucky cousin. It is stretching it a bit to compare him to the devil, but it is GG that gets away with it all, and is probably happy, but it is Donald that is the hero of the story. It are his flaws that makes him more relatable, more human – not bad for a duck. ‘Happy’ and ‘lucky’ translate to the same word in Dutch, which is also GG’s last name (he is called Guus Geluk).

So if happy and lucky is not for us mortals, then what is?

When in possession of a conscience; the awareness of one’s self and its relation to its environment, one can consider one’s self not lucky, but wise and humane.

It is the consciousness that tells you what to do in the future and what to learn from the past, and paradoxically it is there that one can get stuck in a vicious circle. If time is a practical and logical given, then so is decay, illness and death. If responsibility is a given, then so is loss. If there is height, there is the awareness of falling. Cats don’t have that burden. They fall, get up and move on. Human consciousness can be a blessing and a burden.

The devil is the dark side of human consciousness. He tells you – depending on your personality – to take what you want, regardless of the consequences; or something of the opposite: to put yourself down, unworthy of things and other people. I imagine a little version of myself, a more handsome, lucky version, sitting on my left shoulder, whispering negative things in my ear. He tells me to be angry, jealous and judgemental. So that I – briefly – can feel better about myself. A bittersweet gratification. Ultimately, he makes me deeply unhappy.

On my other shoulder, the right one, sits a much quieter version of myself. He often gets pushed over by devil-me. He is too modest. He wants to be a wise ass but is too shy to speak up. He needs to be triggered to speak up more. He represents the good and longer lasting parts of me. He is actually not too bad looking either, but in a more profound way; he can give a genuine smile, with his eyes. If he’d speak up more, he’d tell me I am actually quite a nice guy, capable of many things. More than I think. More than I think. The devil thinks too much. About time for example, about what other people think. Angel-me is more in touch with his – my – emotions and instincts. We need to listen to angel-me more.