Saturday, September 24, 2011

Afternoon of Life

Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” 
 C.G. Jung

      Oh, Carl, interesting stuff you threw out here.  I like the notion of stepping into the afternoon of life.  That 's where my life is right now.  The dawn was fresh, new and full of youthful energy. Child eyes were amazed as the day and the world  revealed itself  Then came the early morning time - very productive and still energetic,  bathed in an assumption that all was possible.  As the morning wore on, a bit of fatigue set in with the hard work that presented itself but my heart and bones were ready and eager for the challenges.  Mid day  gave pause and time for a bit of a break.  For me, nourishment came in the form of creativity and connections and now I am at the 2:00 hour and wondering what I want to do in the afternoon.

     If, as you say, I cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program, then what are my guidelines?  It's true that morning was about productivity and achievement.  I put everything I had into the work of parenting and even had some passion and spark left over to give to the children of the community.  But, have no doubt about it, that was intense labor and there was very little rest.  The focus was on execution and accomplishment of the tasks.  Physical and mental muscles were tense and toned, and work was the cornerstone of my life.

    But the hour has changed.  The task of raising children is done.  I am still nurturing the community's children but the most important work of my life has moved from constant employment to consultant status.  I worked hard in the morning light.  My life had a focus, my time was dictated by lists and I applied myself. As the afternoon turns warm and a little breezy, I find myself embracing the sleepy slower pace.  My attention wanders but I know there is still much to learn.  The morning's agenda was rich in action and reaction but the tenor for the afternoon appears to be observation  and reflection.  Morning's pace didn't allow much time to really notice and record the day but the afternoon is open and conducive to that.

   It appears that the afternoon is a quieter time, a napping time, a solitary time.  I find myself conversing with myself through art, through movement (think walks and bike rides), through dreams and writing.  The conversations are aimless.  I ask questions and wait for answers, which don't come very quickly.   I notice the colors, the patterns, the shadows, the brilliance everywhere, including the pictures in my mind.  I attempt to record them but not in order to hold on to them.  I record them in order to see them better.  I attempt to write about the conversations but the words don't always make sense to anyone but me.  And sometimes the words convey scarcely an instant, an internal ah-ha experience that can only be hinted at with words.

   But, Carl, you scare me a bit when you write about that which was true in the morning may well become a lie by nightfall.  It scares me for several reasons.  For one thing, if it is a lie then did I waste the morning of my life?  If it is a lie, then what was I supposed to be doing?  And can you be more clear?  What part may have been a lie?  Should I not have worked so hard?  Should I not have cared so much? Perhaps I am taking the word lie too seriously.  Perhaps what you mean is that the behaviors, motivations, and impulses of the morning belong in the morning but they no longer belong to the night.  So, if placed at night, then they would be a lie.
     No matter.  The morning is done but the day is not done.  I can still learn.  I can still be in the world, wanting and willing to make the most of this mystery called life. The afternoon promises to be rich in conversations and connections, in observations, details, and chronicles.  Out of those moments, I hope to find some hints at what night will bring.  What lies will I discover?  Will it matter when the end of the day comes?  Maybe.


  1. I like it. If the high chair, the pupil's desk and the swivel chair are the symbols of the morning, and the rocking chair that of the evening, then I think what you need most right now is a lounge chair for the afternoon. That way, when you have finished your run/bike ride, and dabbled a little with your art, you can repair to your lounge chair and read or nap. The hardest work is done, and the time for slowing down has arrived. Let the body relax, and kick the brain into high gear. After all, the brain doesn't need the chair-it just needs a share-of your time and attention. Go for it.

  2. Yes! A hammock like the one we had on the camping trip - and more camping trips would be nice.... and walks on BSR .... and sitting on the beach breathing in the ocean air and watching the water - perfect afternoon activities.

  3. My brother Tomas suggests that the translation is skewed for Jung. Perhaps rather than "lie" he might have meant "stories" or "fictions". That feels more appropriate to me too. In the evening light, the morning was not so much a lie but part of a life story.