This week’s quote is reminding me of some of the studying I’ve been doing (brace yourselves for talk of studying), in particular of Carl Jung. Jung believed that we sort of come into ourselves in mid-life, that we move from focusing on “…materialism, sexuality, and procreation to spiritual, social, and cultural values. Our visions of our purpose and the meaning of our lives become clear” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014, p. 91).
I think as part of that development of ourselves as individuals, of our whole personality developing, we move toward more authentic selves, even if those selves conflict sometimes with the people or environments we care most about. It’s exhausting to always be appropriate, particularly when that acceptability is at odds with who we are when the doors are closed. This is what Jung would refer to as our ‘shadow,’ or the parts of ourselves we find less socially acceptable. It’s easy to hear the word ‘shadow’ and think whips and chains, but it makes me think instead of some of the more subtle ways we shift ourselves to accommodate certain environments or appease certain people, with whom we may have relationships built on somewhat fragile foundations. It’s tricky to allow the persona to include a bit of the shadow or to drop the persona altogether.
I also think that part of this is just the process of living. We start out learning from others, watching others, reading others, developing our theories of ourselves and everything else based on what we learn from others and our environments. Some of it resonates with us; some of it doesn’t. It takes a while for us to accept our own ideas or opinions because, in part, it just takes a long time to sift through all of the information, to really sit with some of it and to listen to our own hearts. If there is true beauty in aging, let that be it. We get to sit with and listen to our own hearts, less fearful of getting along and fitting in than we are of continuing to live a mimicry.
To that end….the quote….from Oscar Wilde, who is so incredibly quotable:
I guess it’s okay to have been younger and to let my passions be a quotation. It takes time to figure out what our own passions are. It takes a lot of adventure and many missteps, some of those steps following along after someone else, who may or may not be decidedly attractive or intelligent or slightly counter-culture (with a beard, obviously).
I don’t know if I’m beyond this quote just yet. I mean….I am quoting someone else here, which perhaps makes my thoughts someone else’s opinion? But I do think I’m on the road, and if Jung is correct, this next half of life will be defining in its own right.
I hope everyone is basking in sunlight and refilling coffee cups, which I’m about to do. I’ve got one child at ballet and another just dragging his blanket from his bed. Saturday mornings are the best.