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Theology e-magazine To make humanity united in worshipping God

Compacting Mid Life Crisis Our Heavenly Patron

The span of human life might be said to comprise
three stages. The first one is the journey from childhood into
maturity. The last one is the journey through old age into death.
But there is also a middle course that all people must pass
through.
It is a journey that commences when the power of youth is
gone, when the possibility of failure in life first presents itself and
when the dreams of earlier years turn up to be shallow and
pointless. This is the crisis of the middle years, the second
journey. It is a time of anxiety and inner turmoil. But it can also
be a time of revelation, when new vistas open themselves to the
human spirit. For all persons who pass down that dark road in
search of light this issue is published.
This is the abstract of Second Journey of Gerald O’ Collins, a
reputed theologian of our time.

Second journey can occur at almost any
stage; from the late twenties to the fifties or even
into the sixties.
Life is series of different journeys. We need to
Page - 02 distinguish one journey from another. But first things
first.

Introduction
Each of us stumbles upon the major issue of midlife
somewhere in the decade between 35 and 45. We suddenly
realize that no one is with us. No one keeps me safe. The life
after adolescence is not one long plateau. We might also falsely
argue that everyone must face a second journey. That would
We need mean ignoring what we call the ‘smooth evolvers’, the many
people who assume each phase of life and build on it without
to situate the
much fuss or bother. Many lives reveal such a smooth process of
second the
growth.
journey in
relation to
the first and
the third
journeys of
life.
It happens such that we feel confused and even
lost. We can no longer keep life in working order. We are
dragged away from chosen and cherished patterns to face
strange crises. This is our second journey.

Jung says, “Wholly unprepared, we embark upon the second half
of life. …thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the
afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false
assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto.
We cannot live the afternoon of life according
to the programme of life’s morning; for what in the
morning was true will at evening have become a
lie.”

The image of the second journey is a piece of good news which should
be shared with others. It is a symbol which can make sense of their
spiritual, psycho-history for countless men and women.
3 Phases of Life
Page - 03

1) Settling Down
The first journey is the whole movement from childhood
through adolescence to adulthood. It passes through the
challenges and crises of two decades to find a measure of
To live is emotional stability and at least some provisional identity.
to change
and to be
perfect is
to have
changed
often –
John 2) On the Last Journey
Henry The third journey involves aging and moving through the
last years before death. Of course not everyone takes part in this
Newman journey; those struck down by death in youth or middle-age make
no such journey.

3) In the Middle Way
On a second journey we suffer a loss of orientation. Their first journey seemed
to have settled their situation, but now things are uncertain, the group consensus no
longer satisfies them. They feel compelled to make another experiment with life and
try themselves out again.

This second journey is a voyage
of self exploration which can help
people really discover themselves in
the mid years of their lives. Mid years
should not be taken too narrowly.

It proves to be an illusion that everything can be reversed, that
there is always time for everything and that everything somehow
returns. - Hans Georg Gadamer
5 Factors that Trigger off a Second Journey. Page - 04

1) A Sense of Failure
Some notable personal failures can initiate a transformation of
consciousness in the middle years.
 An unpleasant and unwanted defeat set this second journey going.
 We cease to define our self by winning.
 In learning to live with failures, we find new values by which we commit.

2) Exile
A further catalyst for a midlife journey is exile. As Dante himself
experienced and he thus wrote, The Divine Comedy;
In the middle of our life’s road
I found myself in a dark wood–
The straight way ahead lost.

These lines suggest fear, lostness and uneasy sense of inner collapse. Many
of the migrants undoubtedly came through emotional upset, loneliness and a
quest for fresh values to a new life, in which they found a lasting stability at the
end of their second journey.

3) Love and Anger
From our late twenties we can be absorbed in our careers and concerns.
 We may project ourselves from facing our own emotions.
 Proven competence and public success can keep us blind to some real needs.
 Suffocated feelings of resentments or a hunger for intimacy may simply erupt
from the depths of an outraged nature.
 Resentment and frustrated affections can tear some of them apart.

4) Sickness
Something as seemingly prosaic as illness may turn out to be decisive in
provoking and directing second journey. High above us, others travel a seemingly
safe road. But all we can do is crawl along in terror and loneliness. Like the ancient
mariner we can feel ourselves;
Alone, alone, all, all alone
Alone on a wide sea!
The alternative we face in life are extraordinary. It is
Page - 05
like reaching a fork in the road. People warn you, Do not
take that road.

5) Something More?
Self-doubts The decision to attempt something more has taken others in
and fears the opposite direction. As Robert Frost writes;

destroy their Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
sense of
And that has made all the difference.
settled
coherence and 6 General Patterns of a Second Journey
leave them 1) Thrust upon Them
inwardly A second journey happens to people. They do not voluntarily
wandering in enter upon it. Or if they willingly start it, they do not fully
a state of understand what this journey will mean for them. Some people
may go away for a summer program, a sabbatical semester or long
suspended
service leave and abruptly find themselves hit by a sudden crisis
being.
that leaves them feeling confused and even lost.

They cease to define themselves by their marriage, their
career, their priesthood or their religious commitment.
Present roles and obligations start looking absurd.

2) Meaning Values and Goals Questions Come Flooding at
Second journeys bring a search for Them:
new meaning, fresh values, and different  What have I done?
goals. Very many people choose external
 Has my life been productive or
goals to define their existence. They aim
stagnant?
at becoming head of their department in
the public service, a bishop in a large  Would it be worth doing it all over
diocese, principal of a high school or again?
some other top person. They move  What is the more I want?
upward in society and then one of two Fresh goals and satisfactory
things happen to them in their thirties, meaning may, however, take time
forties, or fifties. to appear.
The afternoon of life, according to Jung, brings the reversal of all
ideals and values that we cherished in the morning. These are Page - 06

strong words.

3) Crises of Feelings
A crisis of feelings may cluster around the way one perceives time and the
passage of time. This seems true of those who have set themselves clear goals,
repressed emotional reactions deemed unsuitable and pushed ahead relentlessly
with the search for success. Deliberately chosen motivation and a resolute will can
prove strong enough for years, until anger, hunger for affection and either
suffocated emotions simply erupt from the depths of an outraged nature.
4) The Outer Journey
A second journey include a physical
restlessness that keeps on traveling in the hope: if
I relocate, I will find the solution. Of course it is
the inner component which brings about a
genuine second journey. The external traveling
has only a subordinate function. All the same,
some shift from place to place appears to be
steady feature of authentic midlife journeys.

5) Loneliness
People on the second journey repeatedly betray
a deep sense of loneliness. This loneliness should
eventually turn into the aloneness of a quiet and
integrated self-possession.

No one is with me. No one can keep me safe. There is no one who
won’t every leave me alone.

6) Wisdom and Power
Ideally second journey end quietly, with a
new wisdom and a coming to oneself that
releases great power. Second journeys typically
begin dramatically and terminate with
the arrival off the new wisdom of a true
adult. Th is new w isdom involves self-
discovery but not self-seeking.
Compacting Mid life Crisis Page - 07

1) Acceptance
A second journey must be accepted for its spiritual and human possibilities.
It looks like a risky thing. Letting go is not what people normally feel like doing in
that situation.
People must die to reborn. It can be harder than any birth. A second journey
threatens to modify life in a painful way. It is not a therapeutic option but a
prerequisite for genuine survival.
2) Counterfeit Destinations
The advice to let second journey happens is not intended to encourage readers
to abandon commitments recklessly and let themselves be swept way towards false
goals. T. S Eliot’s words in East Coker suggest the need for patience:
In order to arrive there…
You must go by a way where in there is no ecstasy.
As Northrop Frye remarks in The Secular Literature, “the happy endings of
life, as of literature, exist only for survivors.”
3) Journey’s End
It may end in two ways;
1) the pilgrims reach a new place and a fresh commitment,
2) or else they return to their original place and commitment, only to reaffirm
them in a new way.
The pilgrim may return to the same house, the same job, and the same spouse
but with a wisdom and understanding that now knows them all for the first time.
4) Prayer
Each of us travel alone. For a believing traveler, however and perhaps even for
the half believer, prayer can deal with a felt loneliness and provide a strengthening
assurance. Card. Newman cherished prayer and left behind the classic prayer for a
second journey.
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home-
Lead thou me on!

To Conclude: We quote Bill Murray, “ middle life crisis is just a point where
people’s careers have reached some plateau and they have to reflect on their
personal relationships.”

Editor: Tony Maliyekal VC Published from Vincentian Vidyabhavan, Aluva