Recently I was sitting outside of a coffee shop waiting while my wife ordered coffee inside. From a distance I overheard two older men in their late 60s talk about business, management and how they can more effectively direct people to do things and be productive. They used words like “2IC” or “second in command”. I reflected silently to myself, “when you are on your death bed, will you care about these things?” and “have they entered the second half of life in a Jungian psychological sense?” When life seems to have fallen apart. Where our systems and or ways of seeing things seem to no longer work. In the Second Half of Life through individuation each person tries to integrate things of deeper of value things which may have been sub conscious through our personal choices and our sense of who we are. Our identity.
Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun writes about the second half of life. In her writings, she explores the challenges and opportunities that come with aging and how individuals can find meaning and fulfillment during this phase of life. Chittister emphasizes the importance of embracing aging as a natural and transformative process. She encourages individuals to confront the realities of growing older with grace and wisdom, rather than fearing or denying it. Aging can be a time of increased self-awareness, spiritual deepening, and the pursuit of inner peace and contentment.
James Hollis, a Jungian analyst and author, also, extensively explores the concept of the second half of life. He focuses on the psychological and spiritual challenges individuals often encounter as they age and move through the later stages of life. Hollis emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and self-awareness during this phase. He discusses how people may confront existential questions or big questions about life, reevaluate their life choices, and seek deeper meaning and purpose as they age. Hollis encourages individuals to embrace the process of individuation, which involves integrating various aspects of the self and becoming more authentic and whole. Hollis says the meaning of life is not about “Happiness” but rather “Wholeness”. Furthermore, Hollis delves into the idea of letting go of societal expectations and external validations to forge a more authentic path that aligns with one's inner truth. He addresses the inevitability of change and loss in the second half of life and explores how facing these challenges can lead to personal growth and inner transformation.
For me personally, I ask the question what I have learnt from the first half of life that I need to let go of and forget. Forget not in the sense of not remembering, but rather, forget in the sense of choosing not to do, or to engage. Yet, in the first half of life, we struggle to let go of our addictions. Yet we struggle to let go of our sins or things we may not be proud of. Yet, In the first half of life we struggle to let go of our routines. Yet. We struggle to see things differently. Sadly, in Western cultures we often forget concepts like “God”, concepts like “sabbath” or “spiritual down time” or even “important relationships which heal us” or “quality time play time with our children, nephew or niece”. We forget these important things which help us navigate the Second Half of Life.
In John’s Gospel Chapter 3 Jesus says to Nicodemus “you need to be born anew”. Not in a physical sense of being born from your mothers women, rather, in a spiritual sense. We need a new way of doing things. We need the second half of life. The self and the ego cannot provide all the answers not at least in what we were. We must look beyond the self. We must open us up to the possibility of something more. In order to enter the “Road Less Travelled” we must change. In Scott Peck’s book “The Road Less Travelled” peck asserts that the first step in embarking on the road less traveled is to accept that life is inherently difficult. Avoiding this truth or seeking shortcuts to happiness only leads to further problems and suffering. Embracing life's difficulties, challenges, and uncertainties is crucial for personal growth.
Here are some questions for reflection, journaling and discussion.Choose one or two questions to focus on. Ponder the question. Sit with one question. Discussion.
1. What aspects of your life, relationships, or work do you need to let go of to create space for newness in growth and possibilities?
2. Are there unresolved emotional wounds or unfinished business from the past that need attention for you to move forward with greater clarity and authenticity? How can you more creatively address these wounds like writing in a journal, playing music, painting a picture or going on a spiritual journey?
3. In what ways has your relationships, morals and ways of seeing things, changed, and how does this awareness influence your sense of self? How have you grown?
4. What do you fear the most? What scares you the most? How are you called to overcome your fears? What blocks you? How can you stretch out to a higher power to recognise and move past these fears?
5. Are there societal or cultural expectations that you need to release to live a more authentic and fulfilling life? What do you need to let go of?
6. How can you cultivate a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in your daily life, drawing from your life experiences and personal values?
7. What legacy do you wish to leave behind, and what steps can you take now to align your actions with your desired impact?