Abstract concepts have always both fascinated and bothered me. I am drawn to them, finding my mind stimulated as they float around. And yet, I want to be able to pin them down, make them fit into boxes. But I know that no matter how much I wrestle with them, they will never be contained like that. That ambiguity is something I am trying to learn to tolerate better.
In that vein, lately I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the idea that the second half of life often includes a process of letting go of our false self (ego) and discovering more of our true selves. This can include parts we may have failed to integrate fully because of our internalized societal expectations (different from person to person).
In his book “Falling Upward”, Richard Rohr talks about how external interactions can help guide us along this path of inner discovery by showing us pieces of ourselves we are blind to see. These mirroring interactions are so very important to our growth and healing in life. When we encounter those precious few who are mirrors for us, I think even the smallest interactions can set us on a path of tremendous transformation, allowing us to see things we may have long hidden from ourselves and others.
“In the second half of life, you gradually step out of this hall of revolving and self-reflecting mirrors. You can usually do this well only if you have one true mirror yourself, at least one loving, honest friend to ground you, which might even be the utterly accepting gaze of the Friend. But, by all means, you must find at least one true mirror that reveals your inner, deepest, and, yes, divine image. This is why intimate moments are often mirroring moments of beautiful mutual receptivity, and why such intimacy heals us so deeply.”Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
Jung said that “the first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego; the second half is going inward and letting go of it.” The concept of ego is something that slips through my fingers every time I think I’ve grasped it completely. And yet, something about it resonates with me. From what I have gleaned, it seems as though Jung is saying that in the first half of life, we adopt a set of rules and values from which we live our lives. These can come from our families, religious affiliations, or even political parties. This ego structure is a good thing, helping us to become contributing members of society, stable and secure.
And yet, as Richard Rohr says, if we build the ego structure well, we will eventually outgrow it. And I think that is where I find myself in life, being pushed toward something truer. Jung talks a lot about dreams being a way in which our subconscious or true self can speak to us. I can’t help but think that my dream about the forgotten room in the middle of my home has been my subconscious’s way of pushing me out of my first house and towards something deeper.
And so, I find myself in the middle of what feels like a battle, wrestling to figure out what it is that my soul is trying to tell me.