We live in a society obsessed with youth. We want to look younger. We want to feel younger. We want to remain younger. We spend obscene amounts of money, time and resources trying to achieve it, live it and be it.
“Give me the fountain of youth and I will give you whatever you want! Just please, stop the age train from continuing to roll down the tracks of life!”
There’s a thousand reasons for this. Maybe it’s because we live in a consumer culture where newer, shiner and faster is always better. Maybe it’s because we are a culture that gravitates towards shallow, materialistic and the outward appearance of perfection. Maybe it’s simply good ole fashioned fear of death. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is we’ve been misled to believe that younger is better and old is awful.
It’s not. Each has their own set of challenges, problems and sufferings, and although later-in-life struggles tend to be more profound and potentially devastating – they are worth it.
Firstly, what’s the alternative to “getting older”? To not get older? i Since we can’t stop time, the only alternative is to die. Getting older is the best case scenario. It is not a curse. It is a blessing, and not simply because we have survived.
Survival is a start. Surviving, however, is never enough.
Secondly, more than just surviving another year as the earth revolves around the sun, growing older is a blessing because of the experience we accumulate and inner growth we gain.
Young people and their young problems pale in comparison to older people and older problems. Sure, their skin is better, their hair is shinier (or they actually have hair) and they may have an abundance of energy to be pursued down every fun filled avenue, whenever they want, wherever they want. They are independent and free, but truth be told, they are marginally independent and hardly free. Their angst is palpable. Their appetites are insatiable. Their emptiness is chronic. Quantity is no substitute for quality, particularly quality relationships. The Morning is about breadth of relationships; later life, however, is about depth, and depth, not breadth, is where we find meaning, purpose & inspiration.
In the words of Carl Jung, “‘Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.”
Prior to forty, or “the Morning” of life as he calls it, life is dominated by self and the pursuit of me, myself and I: my life, my wants, desires, and needs. Certainly there are many young people out in the world doing many great and selfless things. This isn’t pejorative. We need the Morning as me time, and it is, most of the time. It’s how we learn who we are and how to truly be with other s, to go deep, not wide. However, just because we have to go through it doesn’t always make it easy to look back on it: big hair, big shoulder pads or big egos can be quite embarrassing in hindsight. And far from the polished images of youthful perfection that we’ve been led to believe – the Morning is tough stuff to be sure.
Thank goodness there is a counterbalance to the Morning, what Jung called, “the Afternoon” of life. Jung used the metaphor of the sun moving across the sky to characterize our journey through this life. He writes: “In the morning it rises from the nocturnal sea of unconsciousness and looks upon the wide, bright world which lies before it in an expanse that steadily widens the higher it climbs in the firmament”
The Afternoon is not about diminishing, but ascending higher; it is not about growing older, but growing wiser; it is not about waning in outward strength, but waxing in inner power. As we go deeper, we rise higher. On the contrary, life doesn’t end in the Afternoon, it’s just getting started.
This is what I call, “Soul Uprising.”
Soul Uprising is a new conversation I’m reviving around Jung’s pioneering work on the Morning and Afternoon of Life.
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”
It’s time to kick start conversations, reframe the conversation and reimagine the experience of the Afternoon of Life.
It’s time for new goals, new rules and new tools to help us navigate the Afternoon more passionately, purposefully and powerfully.
It’s time to ditch the midlife crisis and transform it into a midlife awakening.
It’s time to consciously make the shift from the Morning to the Afternoon.
My friends, life only begins at forty, growing better with each passing year, when we shift from a self-centered journey to a soul-centered journey and live a Soul Uprising inspired life.