Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis, Jungian Analyst
Your life asks you a number of questions. Here are some that I selected from Hollis' long list.
1. What has brought you to this place in your journey? (this moment in your life.)
2. Whose life have you been living?
3. Why do you believe you have to hide so much from others, from yourself?
4. Why have you come to this book...now?
5. Why is the life you are living too small for the soul's desire?
Why is now the time, if it is to happen, for you to answer the summons of the soul, the invitation to the second, larger life?
Question we are more starkly faced with after age 35: What does the soul want?
By this age we've done our best to conform to social and societal needs, family directions and expectations, and now something presses from within.
The soul wants a larger life. We all walk around in shoes too small for us," renowned analyst, Carl Jung said.
From an energy point of view, we could say that the soul does not want to be confined to the limits of the physical body. Typically in the journey of a soul, one will meet up with betrayal of or from the body, a loved one, a job...Generally it is from the area where we've placed our strongest projections.
(I would further define that area to mean the one where we are the most vulnerable.)
"Suffering is the first clue that something [within] is soliciting our attention and seeking," says Hollis.
Our "task is to ask what the psyche wants, not what the parents want, not what the parent complexes want." We must risk giving ourselves the larger journey. (Hollis uses psychic interchangeably with soul.)
He leads us to Job's realization that being compliant did not obligate God to treat him well. Betrayal, Hollis tells us, breaches our hope that the world might be manageable and predictable.
As children, were were given the message that the world was big and powerful and we were small and dependent. We had to learn ways to deal with that.
Hollis reminds us that "Courage is always demanded of those who wish to live a life with some integrity." He labels most of our guilt-driven or compliant behavior as anxiety management.
In an ideal world, the family would support the growth and freedom of each of its members. It would not be used to serve the narcissistic needs of the parents or any other member. This level of early support would take us far more gracefully into the second half of life.
In the second half of life there is a greater need to live authentically from inner verification rather than submissive behavior constructed to deal with a neurotic culture.
"The soul has no interest in social adaptation," Hollis reminds us.
In the second half of life we experience the overthrow of the ego's understanding of the world. "Nothing from the outside can spare the periodic encounters with confusion, disorientation, boredom, depression, disappointment..."
These difficult states are intended to move us toward healing and wholeness. Hollis reminds us that our suffering can bring wisdom, depth, dignity, and ultimately spiritual enlargement.
Increased understanding of one's self leads to a richer life.
"Only through making the meaning of that suffering and its agenda for spiritual enlargement conscious can we ever emerge from [Dante's] dark wood.
In the second half of life, we're ready. We've learned from history, and our emotional resilience and level of insight are more acute.