The Afternoon of Life
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the season of life I’m in. There is a restlessness here that didn’t exist before, and yet, there are many blessings too. This phase, that all of us live through if we live long enough, is a great phase for looking inward. Going deep. Taking stock. Making sense of what matters most. And possibly rearranging, if we’re willing to live in deep alignment with our souls.
With my only child now out of the home, it is just my husband, J, and I. And we are both blessed and privileged enough to get to make beautiful life changes, which is exactly what I’m embarking upon. After a two and a half year ‘dark night of the soul’ and another two years of deep spiritual practice, I now know ‘what I want to be when I grow up.’ I’ll share more here sometime, but for now I’d like to reflect on Jung’s term, ‘the afternoon of life,’ the space I find myself in currently.
Jung believed that our main task in these years is to deepen our sense of meaning. I whole-heartedly agree. The work is long and arduous, while at the same time, life-giving and bold. It seems to me there is a delicate balance that needs to occur: time spent looking back, while also looking forward AND being present in the moment. I’ve spent a lot of time looking back lately, reflecting, recognizing that all of the things I’ve done, and the place I’ve been led have been divinely timed and inspired. Presently I’m at a threshold, a place of emerging newness for what’s to come next. I don’t want to miss this time; I want to be fully present to my becoming.
Life is funny. When my daughter was small, I enjoyed every moment of her, while at the same time, looking toward the future, imagining how my days would be spent with more time on my hands. Yet now, with a lot more time than I previously had, challenges arise. I am not bored; I am never bored. But there are lots of decisions that need to be made in idle time. Do I truly idle or do I do something meaningful with my time? I think both are necessary. Too much of one without the other in either scenario is not ideal.
Jung believed that death was life’s goal. I think he was right. We are all heading there. But instead of talking about it, embracing it, many of us fight like hell to avoid it, and aging in general. None of us really knows what happens when we die, but I believe it will be more beautiful than we can imagine. And I believe we remain connected to our loved ones who pass on to the other side. I imagine my loved ones, on the other side of the veil, encouraging me to keep going, but not in a forceful rigid way. I see them singing, candles lit before them, guiding me home. They do this by encouraging me to live fully. In the spirit, in my soul, letting it direct the life I have left to live here on earth.
At the same time, my daughter Madison and all of the other young ones are watching intently, deep in their own longings but watching none the less. Nothing here is truly hidden; even if they are in the throes of their lives, all of existence is impacting them. So, it is the job of the elder to show the young ones the grace and beauty of aging, as well as how to trust that ‘all shall be well,’ even in an unwell world.
Photo by Natalia Luchanko on Unsplash