The second half

Realising that there actually was a second half of life gave me a very strong sense of purpose. It was my first encounter with the work of Carl Jung, which changed my life.

The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.

Carl G. Jung

I was thinking the other day that this second half of life feeling probably can not be understood without living it. Without being in it. You understand the words, the sentences, but you cannot understand what they mean. What they mean for you. You don’t get to this age without scars, some of them permanent, unless you haven’t lived. And even so, there would probably still be some marks. At this age, if you have not erred yet, someone has erred for you. The solution at this stage, I believe, is not so much to whine or to fight, but to accept. Accepting is probably incompatible with being young. Youth has a rebel attitude that promotes growth and development, but also precludes acceptance.

Maybe the second half of life is a hormonal reaction. Interesting… Be that as it might, biological or psychological, the reality is that it is a fascinating age. Sometimes it is harsh, relentless, but other times it is like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time. But you see him with different eyes. You don’t judge him, you simply look at him. You appreciate the change, the scars, you smile. Deep inside you, you feel proud to have reached this stage. One of the things that helped me the most was to listen to the music I used to like. Visiting the past like chapters in an old book. One after the other. Once I wrote that I would not be able to move forward until I had put together all the pieces from my past. Songs, places, people. People, most difficult of course. I thought… people are not like songs, they must have changed, like I did. But songs have also changed. They existed in us in a particular form, a colour, now in another. Like the words in the book of the Anchorite (The Red Book, Carl G. Jung). The words are the same, but they sound differently within us each time. We are different and everything that surrounds us, everything that “speaks” to us, has changed in us even if it hasn’t changed.

Looking for information about the second half of life, I found this blog, which I liked: Thank you very much for posting it.

I read that one of the tasks of the second half of life is to accept death (“So what then does it mean to die?”, The Illusionist). To accept that you will die. This is a topic that always fascinated me. Not death in itself, but the way we humans think about it. From the time we have a minimum conscience, we know that we will die. But we don’t know. When you are young, death is something that only happens to other people. You know that biologically it will also happen to you, but it is so far along the road that you don’t even consider the possibility.

However, in the second half of life, you see it differently. It is closer. When you reach this point, death has already come to visit you a few times. You know It and it is much easier – and evident – to accept that one day It will come for you. For me. But you no longer see this as a tragedy. Simply as something natural that has to occur. You do not rebel against it. I am in no hurry to die, don’t get me wrong, but I have come to accept that it will happen one day. This actually helps you a lot to reposition yourself and gain perspective. It is like a deadline approaching, you don’t know when it will be here, but you know it’s coming. This is not about suffering, but about accepting the inevitable.

At this age… it is as if things suddenly made sense. Things you have seen, you have lived… suddenly you are able to… not to understand them, but to see their place in the world. In your world. All those disperse memories, events, start aligning slowly and form a spiral around you. From the bottom upwards, twisting, wrapping you. Good things and bad. Happiness and sadness. What you learnt and also what you have not yet learned. Slowly aligning. And you have a feeling, very brief, that you understand, that you finally understand what life is about. A few seconds and… puff, it fades away. Like a small whirl that appears before the storm, lifts the leaves and, moments later, is gone. As I see myself loading all the pictures, the music and the diaries on my boat, I have the feeling that this moment in my life will not last long and I take time to reflect on it and enjoy it.