When it comes to life, what half are you living in?
Noted Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung popularized the notion of the two halves of life by saying “the first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego,” and “the second half is going inward and letting go of it.”
Here’s how I’m thinking about it:
- First-half living is about gathering titles, amassing income, earning degrees, and ensuring that the outward notions of success are intact.
- Second-half living lets us realize that just being successful, healthy and wealthy doesn’t cut it. Second-half living tells us that the things that once defined us are, to some degree, illusions. There’s something more that the soul needs. It’s less about taking and accumulating and more about giving, mentoring and sharing.
In between halves there is often intense pain, disorder, fear and defeat. I can’t tell you how long it will take. During this “halftime” we start to question all that we’ve held dear to ourselves our entire lives. All the things that make us secure. I can’t tell you that this “halftime” only happens once.
The Crucible Project’s initial weekend for men is designed to bring us to a “halftime.” It puts us in just such a place. A crossroad. Turning point. A life change. The initial weekend is designed to bring a level of intensity, confusion, fear and defeat so that we can move from first-half into second-half living. It will challenge you to take a hard look at what is working in your life and what is NOT working in your life.
While we are in the moment, it has a tendency to freak us out. Thankfully, we are not alone in this. There are other Christian brothers, who walk with us during the weekend and then long after.
I like how Joseph Campbell, the famous literature professor, gets at the notion of going on this journey of self-questioning and self-rediscovery. He writes this in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:
“We have not even to risk the adventure alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a God. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. And where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
What is true about the weekend — the journey, the fear, the confusion, the intensity and the resulting transformation is also true about life. The Crucible Project weekend just concentrates it, accelerates it and ensures that it is safe.
As I think about all this, I realize that in my life — and on the weekend — I have certainly experienced living in both halves. I had a strong sense of ego and self-growing up. I felt stable like all the world made sense. I knew who I was, where I belonged, who I was connected to, and where I was going.
At 44, I feel like I’m learning how to live a second-half life. I’m not always sure of all these things. I’m not sure all the values and beliefs I had when I was younger are still with me. I don’t need to jump for the titles, accolades, glamor and glitz. Instead, I can spend more time connecting with those I love, learning more about God, living in the here and now and trusting that it’s all going to be O.K. even if I don’t have it all figured out.
I have this trust because I’ve developed an inner world. I can see more clearly what is going on in me and what is going on in others. As a result, I can navigate the world better and do a better job communing in harmony with myself and those around me.
Here are some questions to ask to process second-half living:
- Do I really know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it?
- What are my true motives?
- How is it that I can stay a learner, an explorer, a humble servant?
- What is it I don’t know about myself and those around me?
- When is it and why is it that I do what I used to not want to do?
As a result of the initial weekend and second-half living, I’m also better prepared to share more healthy energy with those around me. American author and former Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr speaks to the pain that can occur when we as healthy people don’t do that.
“When positive masculine energy is not modeled from father to son, it creates a vacuum in the souls of men, and into that vacuum, demons pour. Among other things [we] seem to lose the ability to read situations and people correctly.”
So, another gut check is to ask ourselves is how we’re connecting with others. Positive masculinity is connected to second-half living because it isn’t self-absorbed. In other words, it isn’t about you.
- Have I honored someone lately?
- When is the last time I spoke words of affirmation?
- What love language do the people around me receive best?
- Am I speaking their love language?
One closing thought. Because the weekend forces us to re-order our ego and enter second-half living, expect to be confused for a little while.
Trust the people. Trust the process. Trust yourself. And above all … Trust God and the Holy Spirit to do their work in you.
By Tony Bradburn
Tony completed his initial weekend in June of 2008 and is a graduate of our two-year transformational program. Tony hails from the idyllic shades found in Crystal Lake, IL. After being adopted from the Dominican Republic at the age of 6 months into a family in Elgin with two biological children, going through school, getting sober, becoming a teacher and a football coach, getting married, going to more schooling to get a few Master’s degrees, having four beautiful children, moving into educational administration, getting divorced, and now having principalship duties, it’s safe to say that Tony’s path has never been a straight one.
Photo Credit: sagesolar via Creative Commons