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  • Here in the Middle Years of Life: Is That All There Is?

    The great jazz artist Peggy Lee performed the following beautiful, highly disturbing yet haunting song in 1969, at midlife, in her 50th year:

    I doubt that questions get much more real than those in this song.  And the question that Peggy Lee sings about here is of the type, that, for many people, can become achingly urgent at the middle of life. 

    For many people, especially in our tumultuous times, the middle years of life can come to feel like an endless process of coping with chaos.  It can feel like life has become a time of just responding to one crisis after another: issues with maturing children, issues with the health of parents; job issues; issues of financial security.  At times, life can come to seem endlessly wearying, and very much as if there is nothing to it, but “just going through the motions”.  From such a place, for very many people, there can come a deep heartfelt cry: “Is this really all that there is to my life?  Is this all that I get?”

    This moment, the moment of this question, is highly important in the life of the individual.  This is true, even especially true, if the time when this question arises is filled with depression, anxiety — even despair.

    From experience with clients, I can almost guarantee that there will be no canned, pre-packaged answer to this question that will slake the desperate thirst of those who ask such a question. Only an answer rooted in the individual’s life will bring any peace, any hope, any meaning — any sense of value.

    By an individual answer, I mean one that emerges from the very depths of the individual.  Not something that the individual’s intellect or conscious mind has cobbled together, but something that emerges from the very depths of the person, from what they most fundamentally are.  Something to which they can say “Yes!” with their whole being.

    It is the task of good therapy (and of Jungian analysis) to assist the individual in finding the symbolic dimension that conveys meaning, to find the deep story or myth of an individual’s life.  There are many in suburban places like Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga for whom the question “Is that all there is?” has become urgently real.  I invite you to enter into the therapeutic journey inward, to find your own inner treasure.

    I’d gratefully welcome comments and reflections from readers.  Have you had the experience of wondering in this way “is that all there is”?  How has that question affected your life?  If you were willing to share this important and personal part of your life, I’d be deeply interested to dialogue with you.

    My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

    Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

    Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice:


    © 2010 Brian Collinson


    1. Sabrina Whetham | Web Design
      March 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm -

      You have very deep thoughts on this topic here. I think you are right in the fact that each individual person needs to have the question answered for themselves, or else they will not grab a hold of the answer or believe it.

      Personally, I am not even close to my middle age although, if I knew tomorrow was my last day, I feel that I have spent my life living out my purpose. I’ve been so blessed and I feel that I have been able to pass that along. I couldn’t ask for more in my life. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    2. Elona Hartjes
      March 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm -

      All my life, I’d been working towards various goals but in my late 50’s I found myself asking “Now what?”. It took me a couple of years to find new goals. I’d just kept myself asking over and over again “now what” and one day I had the answer. I don’t really know where the answer came from, but it came.

      Now I am enjoying the journey on my way to my new goals. Once achieving the goal was the important thing; now it’s the journey towards the goal that seems more important. Now I feel I’ve been there, done that. It’s not so much about doing as about being.Maybe that’s a luxury being older brings.

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