Tag Archives: dark night of the soul

Little India to Clarke Quay

Pieces of the Puzzle

We walked from Petain Road to the Novotel, and covered the space of 5 years, 4 continents, several contexts and a few people. So the discussion yet unfinished is when, why and if the mid-life transition is universal in experience. Is it the exception or the rule?

Perhaps mid-life is a popular time to ponder these things, perhaps Daniel Levinson in his “Seasons of a Man’s Life” is accurate in his theory of ongoing adult development. Certainly in the theory of the archetypical Journey of the Hero, and in Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis the time of the descend into the unconscious and unlived aspects of our personalities are well known.

The time of mid-life transition is for me a time for deep introspection and questioning, due to a dissatisfaction with the realities I had been experiencing. It wasn’t the only time that these questions bothered me, it was the time that they bothered me enough that I could no longer ignore them. Life, without answers was unlivable. There had been a growing nagging discontent, a constant feeling that I was living in a world and a life through a fog. I felt a separation from all that was meaningful and worthwhile. Life as a one shot deal ending in eternal bliss or eternal suffering was pointless and waste of time . Life as a one shot deal ending in oblivion was equally senseless. If we are the only intelligent life-forms in this vast universe, isn’t that a waste of space?

The mystery of life was intriguing. The experience of an inner knowing and boundless space hinted of a bigger picture, a inside joke that I was not in on. The continuam of  life through the generations, through the genetic codes, and genetic mutation spoke of a higher order which also embraced chaos. The transfer of wisdom or lack-of through different societies and cultures spoke of the continuation of  evolution and revolution. The clues left by the discoveries and mistakes of  millenium of seekers after the truth proved that we are not satisfied with just this one experience, and need a deeper meaning for existing. What we are dissatisfied with are represented individually and universally in art, in poetry and  in war. What we seek is expressed as unity, divinity, emptiness, salvation, eternal life, as if we do not have it now and need it. It is a longing because of a belief in lack?

If we do not feel lack, then we do not seek. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable. If there is attachment to that state, then there is a potential of loosing it. Life is not static. Then there is a potential of feeling lack and the cycle is just waiting to start. If there is non-attachment, non- covetousness (equanimity) then the craving for non-lack does not occur.

Which journey do we want to take? How do we put the puzzle together? Who are we, and what are we doing here?  The question which is not asked need not be answered.

The Hero’s Journey: Descending into the Underworld

Feeling Stuck?

In the archetypical journey of the hero, the first half of life is about individuation – building a self – birth, childhood, growth, education, striking out on life’s adventure to claim one’s stake on the world. The second part of life is about dismantling the self – being discontent with what was once desired, trying to find deeper meaning, departing into the wilderness / the enchanted forest / the underworld – pick your myth – to confront our deepest fear / retrieve the golden fleece / rescue the princess and hopefully, transcend into wisdom / ascend to the throne / enlightenment – again, pick your myth. 

Symptoms of having reached what pc people call the mid-life transition, others call it the mid-life crisis:

Middle-age gent in red ferrari installed with young blond in front seat

Successful corporate exec suddenly looses all sense of self – retrenched, identity-less, worthless, lost

Men and women living lives of quiet desperation – grinding to a halt.

Everything feels stuck, stagnated, stifling. Life becomes disenchanted, meaningless, directionless, demons come out and play with our fears. Our shadows overwhelm us. We loose faith in ourselves and the world. We escape into online games, tv, illness, dramatic love affairs…. Or we seek wisdom, solution, resolution.

Depression, despair, desperation, defeated. Welcome to the descent. It’s the opportunity to drop all your baggage.

Relishing in your drama? Losing yourself? Running away from the world?

Relishing in your drama? Losing yourself? Running away from the world?



It’s not a nice place to be. It will be hard. It will be painful. The danger is not the pain you will face, cos you are equal to that which you create. The danger is not that you won’t find the golden fleece cos that is pre-disposed to be found. 

The danger is you might get seduced by the wilderness / underworld / enchanted forest and wish to dwell there forever.

Themes: Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Collective Unconscious, Tarot and the Journey of the Hero