Three Truths about Mortality and Life Transitions
Our growing awareness of mortality in the second half of life can spur us to major life transitions.
While some life transitions just occur to us, others require some element of decision. Those are the ones that I want to reflect on in this post.
The Shortness & Infinite Preciousness of Life
The issue of mortality came home to me this week in a vivid personal way, when, sadly, I learned of the death of a woman I know in her mid-50s. I cannot, of course communicate any identifying details about this wonderful person, other than to describe her as an engaging, young-looking woman with a quick mind and vivid sense of humour, who apparently passed with incredible quickness.
Certainly, anyone who knew this competent, vivacious, woman, who apparently had so much ahead of her, must have been deeply shocked by this turn of events.
This is a difficult truth, but an incredibly important one: none of us knows how much time we actually have to live, and to become aware. That makes each day, each new awareness, each new choice, infinitely precious.
There are Life Transitions We Need to Make Happen
In keeping with the theme of those life transitions that we have a role in bringing about, we need to ask some searching questions.
1. Are there experiences that I need to have? I don’t mean this in the sense of fulfilling some entertaining “bucket list” of diversion. Rather, are there experiences that are soul work, that my inmost being cries out for?
2. Have I found people with whom I can connect in a meaningful way? Are there people with whom I am truly at home? Where in this world can I find a welcome? And…
3. Perhaps most profoundly and fundamentally. are there ways in which I need to explore and be aware of myself? To embark on a path of increasing self awareness — this can often be the profoundest life transition of all.
Go for Soul
For many, as life moves along its course, it becomes essential to have experience of the true depth of life within ourselves.
Here is a Zen Buddhist parable on mortality:
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!…
Jungian therapy concerns itself with the key importance of life transitions, particularly in the second half of life, and emphasizes the need to pour ourselves fully into the things that want to draw us into life.