Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis, PhD.
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
James Hollis takes you from the darkwood (uncertainties/lack of authority), passes by Existential wounding, role of family, intimacy and ends up in the swamplands (Guilt, Betrayal, Grief, anxiety/depressions) among other worth consulting topics.
My favourite topic/sub-topic was 'Existential wounding and programming of our sense of self', which answers the question --- How did we ever come to be who we are in this world and in this particular way, known to those around us as who we are, or what they think we are?
James also makes a precise and relatable discussion on intimacy, including projections and transference. After a read you'll be left quizzical through most if not all the topics. Even so, James Hollis calls upon growth and finding meaning rather than happiness, such that, we are serving a developmental agenda and not a regressive one.
The book as it states 'second half of life' is not for those in midlife crisis or actual midlife. Generally suitable for all. How to finally, Really grow up. Lucky to have read this after listening to the podcast 'Art of Manliness' by Brett McKay who interviewed James Hollis.
Some of my favourite random quotes are listed below.
No prisons are more confining than those we know not that we are in.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you, contrary, if you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
Who we think we are is a limited function of the ego.
The soul is a distant country whose breath and boundaries can never be fully explored.
Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life; thereby equivalent to an illness.
The summoning of the soul is stepping into a deep ocean uncertain whether we will swim to a new distant shore. We will never arrive at the new distant shore without consenting to swim beyond the familiar lights of the shore left behind.
Life must be lived forward and remembered backwards, is it then not self-deluding to keep doing the same thing and expect different results?
The quality of our relationships, quality of our parenting, quality of our citizenship and even the quality of our life's journey can never be higher than that of the level of personal development we have attained.
Choose anxiety and ambiguity for they are developmental, always, while depression is regressive. Anxiety is an elixir and keeps us on the edge of life whilst depression is a sedative and keeps us in the sleep of childhood.
Do not judge history for it was as it had to be, but do not abdicate the possibility of the present either.
The ego wishes comfort, security and satiety while the soul demands meaning, struggle and becoming.
The ultimate test of the family is not about safety and predictability but rather to what degree can one leave freely, return freely even as a larger person.
You are not what you say you will do, but rather, you are what you do.
The inescapable truth about relationships is that it cannot achieve no higher level of development than the level of maturity that both parties bring to it.