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Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up Paperback – March 16, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
The midlife crisis is familiar enough, but as in previous works, Hollis (The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning at Midlife), brings a Jungian perspective to it that goes deeper than the idea of finding mere self-fulfillment. That feeling that you've been living the wrong life, that you're lost and confused, is "an insurgency of the soul," he says poetically, which "overthrows the conscious conduct of our lives." This mental suffering presents an opportunity to embark on a journey transcending expectations foisted on us by others, such as parents, and to find true self-knowledge. Hollis offers not a simple how-to on facing this crisis, but rather a deep Jungian exploration of individuation, the process of becoming the person one was meant to be. Sprinkling his discussion with references to prose, drama, poetry and popular culture as well as examples from patient histories, Hollis recommends working toward a mature spirituality by being true to personal experience and embracing the mystery of life. This spirituality is a reconnection to the voice of the soul, dramatized by images that appear to us in dreams. Hollis is humane and compassionate regarding the human condition, and his focus on the underlying meaning of life will resonate for many, though they may not respond to his somewhat mystical, god-laden language. (May 1) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“How to find your way out of the woods (figuratively)…what’s at stake is what Hollis calls the biggest project of midlife: reclaiming one’s personal authority…”—More magazine "Midlife is a time when people can lose their way and flounder. Jungian analyst James Hollis knows this terrain, describes it well and asks the important questions that can lead to clarity, maturity, and meaning"—Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., author of Goddesses in Everywoman and Gods in Everyman
Top customer reviews
Granted, he draws heavily from Jung, but the concepts are presented with a 21st Century relevance. I find that I actually take solace in its pages; with reassurances that, while this path is challenging, I am not alone in sorting out what carries meaning here in the second half.
If you are younger than, say, 40, or you are a big fan of bullet points vs. elegant prose, then this book is probably not for you. But if 50 has too suddenly appeared on the horizon (or just blown past) and a little reevaluation might be in order, I think you'll find some gold in these pages.
Essentially, this book is about conflict or pull between fate (i.e. your history and expectations of family and self etc.) and destiny which is the inner quest of the soul to seek meaning in life. In the second half of life Hollis highlights that the things that gave us a purpose and established us in the first half of life are no longer a guide to fullfilment later. He calls the reader to recognise what is good in their life and consider the value of the rest. He ask the reader to be open to the anxiety and uncertainty that the answers to these questions will bring. This he reminds the reader is a quest for meaning and so his book does not provide a cookbook of answers but a series of reflections on the issues that may present in the search.
James Hollis is a Jungian analyst so the quest reminds me of the film "the Wizard of Oz" - one of the films I hate most! A consequence of this is Hollis assumes things will be well if we follow our souls destiny. This is what I would call a nice American Liberal Arts viewpoint but of course is not necessarily true. Hollis accepts that the quest is difficult and potentially very rewarding but does not address the flip side - i.e. what if it doesn't work out. Throwing off the shackles of ones old life is something that must be carefully considered in light of an uncertain outcome. This is an excellent book that I would highly recommend with the cavet that the reader in finding his or her destiny should "make haste slowly".
The book addresses those who feel a growing loss of control in their life, those who have realized all their dreams but still find something amiss, and those who in looking at their current life realize it's nothing like what they felt it should be.
We should be aware of our own intuition, sense, and wisdom, yet as Hollis points out, this often is not the case. That what we believe are our personal reactions and motivators are in fact heavily laid by our parents, church, society, etc. We all of course are influenced by our upbringing, but often we adopt and internalize these influences in ways that disrupts or prohibits our own self from developing.
I traveled for 3 years around the world, and when I returned to the US, I couldn't function. This book helped me understand why. I couldn't return to my old life or my old relationships. It wasn't so much that I had changed, but rather I was trying to reenter a life that was never really mine. Why do some of us stay in unhealthy relationships and then one day leave? Perhaps we get sick of our sickness, and realizing that we (conscious or not) often allow other's to influence, control, or divide our being in detrimental ways is the beginning. Until we develop this individuation, we are not really experiencing a real freedom of choice. And the way that James Hollis addresses this, and speaks to the reader is wonderful and delivered with an intellect based in wisdom and caring.