Finding the Meaning of the Second Half of Life: 4 Creative Ways
Finding the meaning of the second half of life matters a great deal, if the later part of life is going to give us the gift of discovering who it is that we truly are.
I don’t mean “the” meaning in the second half of life, as if to suggest that there’s a single one-size-fits all meaning. Rather, experience from /a-midlife-transition and Jungian work suggests that this sense of meaning is something very uniquely personal.
The exploration of what we personally find meaningful is essential for fulfillment in the second half of life, in particular. What’s full of life for you? It may well be a major part of a life’s work to find it, and live it out.
In the SlideShare presentation that follows, I look at some creative ways in which we can begin the essential soul work of finding the meaning of the second half of life.
Opening Doors to the Undiscovered Self
One very creative thing that we can do, is to open ourselves to new experiences, that may well be experiences that don’t fit with previous images or concepts of ourselves. We can learn some surprised things about ourselves by doing this.
One man I know developed an interest in Pre-Raphaelite painters. after spending most of a working life as an accountant, and joined a group of afficionados. Another, who had seen himself as rather introverted, joined an improv comedy group. A female acquaintance bought a motorbike, and rode to the most remote parts of North America.
Creatively Retelling Your Own Story (Personal Myth)
An important way of connecting with the things of greatest meaning in our lives can be through re-visiting and retelling the fundamentals of our life story. It may well be that, if we look at our lives from a somewhat different angle, we may find a sense of meaning and importance in our lives that we may not have seen previously. A classical example of this would be someone who perhaps had a very difficult early life, who, looking at that life, realizes that certain themes and patterns have been apparent from an early age, and have made their life what it is and given it meaning. It is no accident that Charles Dickens, himself virtually an orphan, wrote many of the 19th century’s most moving novels –precisely about orphans, drawing on the orphan archetype in a way to which all can relate.
This is one area where /a-midlife-transition can be of vital importance as it helps us to open up our life experience, and to understand the psychological meaning of all that has happened to us as the quotation of Prof. James Hillman above suggests.
Setting the Arts Free
Not surprisingly, working with the arts can be of profound importance in accessing our creativity, and, connected to it, the meaning of our lives. It is surprising how much of the unconscious mind is reflected in art work that we do. This enables us to see aspects of ourselves that are not as well known to our conscious selves — perhaps not known at all. Contained within that revelation of ourselves often are the germs of finding the meaning of the second half of life.
Dealing Creatively with Your Dreams
A final creative way to find meaning is often available through understanding and dealing creatively with the dreams that appear in your life. This is very hard to do on your own, and is another area where being in /a-midlife-transition can be of tremendous help, in enabling dreams to be a springboard for creative insight, and creative living that carry us into our life’s meaning. This is a topic I hope to discuss much more in the near future.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst
PHOTOS: © Burt Kaufmann
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)