James Hillman : Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny –
These are some words that define aging. Does that feel strange? Maybe not when they are more clarified.
Complexes, according to Jungian analytical psychology, are defined as parts of our personality like islands that we are not in connection with; or, we could say we lack connection to; or we are so unconscious of them that they make us act in ways that are out of sync with our personality. One of these, for many people, is the entire topic, much less the experience of getting older.
Complex is also a word for aging that implies the conscious and unconscious beliefs, ideas, feelings, thoughts, actions. Aging is so difficult because few people discuss it. Are we listening to this stage and time of life that is so immensely significant?
Perhaps there is special preparation to be done as we age. It may not be an active ‘doing’ like suddenly going to the gym or going on a raw food or vegetarian diet. But it is an important time to do some serious assessment, tying up loose ends, coming to terms with what is, making reparations within and without as need be. Paying attention to dreams is an interesting and creative way to get in touch with the inner world, as it is often full of surprises.
Aging is Being. Self. It is a conundrum. A conundrum contains, it is complex, there is not a way out, it feels trapped, limiting, full and holding, tight and can definitely be creative. The conundrum is that age is in our face. It says we cannot go on forever and we have to value and grieve that we are in the now and to use it for whatever we wish. No more endless tomorrows. The time is in the present moment. Not so easy to live in the moment.
Our task is how to use the energy in this place for development and growth. The conundrum is how to use all we know and then add some. How to expand if aging seems to be interpreted by too many as a time of contraction?
So, we are in the challenge of how to make aging a different experience. We are of another generation than the one before us. We are charged to find other ways to be healthy and full throughout life. The conundrum is how to do it?
What is a creative way through when the past models were not very enticing? We can only figure what will work for ourselves and what is in line with how we have lived and will continue to live. This means honoring the inner world, the world of dreams, thoughts, creations, ideas, feelings. It is a complex situation and requires us to get out of our own way and at the same time, to listen to our own way.
In the midst is the powerful challenge of acceptance, of dreams not created, much less answered. The next generations stare us in the face. We are to be happy for them, but are we? It is part of the shadow we all carry to feel envy and the sorrow of not having the chances anymore. Or, maybe some are content as their lives are challenging and full, their inner world interesting, they are creative and vibrant. Yes, having to cope, but coping. Not resigned but rather connected within. The world not concave but convex and open, capacity flowing. Not an easy position to create, cohere to, or be congruent.
Just today a woman spoke about aging with disgust. Her body would go, she would not be attractive to men, especially younger ones. She would lose her strength, beauty, energy. It was awful to listen to her rendition about what life held for her. Here is the complex around aging speaking. Canceling attention and care on age and the aging process is a defeat to attaining completeness in life.
What complexes run your attitudes to aging?