There is something really nice about aging. Whether others like me or not is less important to me than what it used to be when I was young. I just want to live my truth.
What I’m saying is: of course it is nice if you like me, but I do not need you to like me.
Can you see the difference?
As I have been thinking of issues of aging and my need to live my truth, I remembered some thoughts of a Jungian analyst James Hollis in his book Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life. (I spoke about his book already in one of my earlier blogs.)
Hollis divides life into two halves. The task of the first half of our life he describes like this:
“One has to have separated from the parents long enough to be in the world, to make choices to see what works, what does not, and to experience the collapse, or at least erosion, of one’s projections. By this age, the ego strength necessary for self-examination may have reached a level where it can reflect upon itself, critique itself, and risk altering choices, and thereby values as well.”
The second half of the life may begin as early as at the age of thirty-something, or much later. It has two major tasks: 1) the recovery of personal authority and 2) discovering a personal spirituality.
What fascinates me about this distinction and what I want to share with you is the way Hollis defines personal authority.
“What constitutes personal authority? Stated most simply it means, to find what is true for oneself and to live it in the world. If it is not lived, it is not yet real for us, and we abide in what Sartre called ”bad faith”, the theologian calls ”sin”, the therapist calls “neurosis”, and the existential philosopher calls ”inauthentic being”. Respectful of the rights and perspectives of others, personal authority is neither narcissistic nor imperialistic. It is a humble acknowledgement of what wishes to come to being through us.”
And how about discovering a personal spirituality? According to Hollis this is closely allied with the task of recovering personal authority.
“It is of paramount importance that our spirituality be validated or confirmed by fidelity to our personal experience. A spiritual tradition that is only received from history or from family makes no real difference in a person’s life, for he or she is living by conditioned reflexive response. Only what is experientally true is worthy of a mature spirituality… A mature spirituality will seldom provide us with answers, and necessarily so, but will instead ask ever-larger questions of us. Larger questions will lead to larger life.”
What wishes to come to being through you? What is your answer to that question?