that’s the title of a book by james hollis, a jungian analyst and executive director of the jung society of washington, d.c. the subtitle is wisdom for the second half of the journey.
in true jungian style, this is a book about the soul, about what cannot be earned, achieved, accomplished, bought, or borrowed. it’s about truly growing up, growing to be the soulful, conscious humans we are meant to be.
the book title and subtitle certainly caught my attention. even the chapter titles intrigued me…”let go of the old”, “recover personal authority”, “choose meaning over happiness”, and “come back to your task”.
this book is about unfinished business...
…and finishing it.
though it can be read cover-to-cover, it might be more useful to read a chapter and be with that transformative work for a week or so before moving on. it’s meant to be read over and over, so that we are reminded of our eldering process. each of these gems is meant to be savoured, tasted, lived and embodied as we grow older so that ageing becomes a gift to ourselves, from our selves…from our soul, that deepest part of who we are.
here’s a bit of his voice from the chapter about our task.
in considering what matters most one of the first things that came to his mind
“was that one’s life not be governed by fear. fear is unavoidable, but a life in which fear calls the shots is one that results in terrible malformations of the soul. as we know, nature always demands its due, and so the soul, which is our metaphor for the fact that we are meaning-seeking and meaning-creating animals, demands respect.”
to find and actualise our task, connecting to and listening to that metaphor is essential. our task in the elder aspect of life is different from earlier times when learning, earning a living, making our way in the world, creating family and friends were our tasks. now it is time to listen to our accumulated wisdom and knowledge and put them in service of the soul.
that service may be expansive or contained, personal or civic, social or meditative. in truth, it doesn’t matter where that energy is manifested. what matters is that it is manifested…through the unique meaning-seeking, meaning-making being that you are.