Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What does my soul require?

A dear friend, knowing of my exploration, sent me this wonderful quote from Carl Jung:

Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie. (Aspects of the Masculine, page 33, which I believe is referencing "Stages of Life," Collected Works, Vol. 8, Paragraphs 778, 784.)

I really do feel different during this particular life transition. For example, when I see job descriptions or opportunities that call to the Jillaine from my earlier period of life, the prospect of pursuing them feels like a lie. That's not me anymore. I'm someone else. (The only exception to this is the most recent work I was doing: convening people to jointly create solutions to their individual challenges.)

This sent me Googling around where I found a number of references that resonate (or should I saw "generate synchronicity"?) with my own experience.
"Carl Jung believed that middle and old age, like youth, have specific developmental tasks. While the developmental tasks for youth involve turning outward and engaging life, the goal for the mature individual is to consolidate an integrated personality by integrating the conscious and the unconscious parts of self." (The afternoon of life: Jung's view of the tasks of the second half of life, by K. Kelleher.)

Well, I certainly feel this is true of me at this time of my life. And I even remember an early therapist telling me that I needed such internal focus. I didn't get it then. Guess I wasn't old enough. ;-)

Wikipedia on Carl Jung went on to explain:
"Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential, much as the acorn contains the potential to become the oak, or the caterpillar to become the butterfly.

I've spent these post-layoff weeks in a place of inner exploration, seeking to re-ignite my deepest "innate potential," absolutely certain that something else is calling to be expressed through me than what has been expressed in my earlier years.

Then I found this:
"But this transition requires deeper change and a different orientation toward one’s self and one’s world than earlier transitions... When the middle passage has been navigated, the sun begins its slow descent... there can follow a long period when people are not young and not yet old. I call this period the time of coming to authenticity...

"Our sense of identity is expanded. We know more about our authentic selves and have come to some peace with our mistakes and limitations... We can become more fully who we were created to be, and we can make choices from a place of authenticity and integrity...

"As the darkness of evening falls, the question is not “What does the world require?”, or even “Is this all there is?” Rather the question is “What does soul require?” " (Individuation: Learning to Live by Nancy Millner.)

My soul requires that my inner self be expressed-- through writing, through painting-- i.e., through creative expression. It requires that I maintain connected to the earth Funny that: I type this from the deck of the "Tree House" where the afternoon light filters through the trees and I hear any number of bird species calling to and for their mates.

Meet "Ida"

Please allow me to to introduce you to an alter ego of mine. Her name is Ida, Ida Juana.

She's five.

She tends to show up at certain times of the day when I'm turning my attention to something good for myself or for the home-- cleaning up my clutter, doing laundry, exercising, doing the next round on a painting.

When she sees me getting ready for any of these, she decides it's time to remind me of her name. This morning, it was while getting dressed to ride my bike the 10 miles into town:

"Ida Juana!"

The first time she says it is soft and quiet because she knows that in the past, one mention is all it took to get me to drop whatever I was doing and turn my attention to her. Lately, she's had to repeat herself a few times.

Her timing is also exquisite. She always says her name right before I actually commence the activity-- in that very moment before I commit-- when there's still wiggle room to change my mind and do her bidding (which often involves me reading a cheap novel to her while she downs a bag of chips or the last box of Girl Scout cookies).

She's also very good-- especially for a five-year-old -- at taking advantage of external circumstances.

This morning it was NPR's weather forecast: hot and humid.

As images of a hot and sweaty bike ride passed before my awareness, her voice began to sound amazingly like my own as she repeated her name:

"Ida Juana!"

But here's the deal. She's five. I'm fifty. I've got a few on her. The result: I'm writing this from downtown after a great first 10 miles along the tow path.

Yes, I'm hot, sweaty and overheated but I'm also enjoying a perfectly made double dry cappuccino, sitting in an air-conditioned office and feeling quite good for responding to Idea with:

"I hear you, Ida Juana. I know your name. I haven't forgotten it. And today, we're going for a bike ride."

She attempted to change my mind with a few more repetitions of her name, but I persisted. And ultimately even she had a good time, especially when we saw the two geese leading their six gosling across the tow path. That shut her up for awhile.