When you get your “What Am I” questions right, all the “What Should I Do” questions tend to take care of themselves. – Richard Rohr; Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
Starting a New Year is always fun for me. It’s a blank slate and a fresh start. And this year seems even more significant for some reason. Maybe it’s because 2013 felt like a turning point in so many ways which makes 2014 feel even more like a new beginning than most other years.
In 2013 I learned a lot about myself and what I want out of life. I’ve been living in limbo for the past 2 years. I changed carriers, moved to a different city and have struggled to set up shop here. I turned 41 last year, which if the demographers are too be believed means I am now officially starting the second half of my life. Now feels like the right time to move forward into the next phase of life.
Father Richard Rohr, author of “Falling Upward; A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life” and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation has written extensively on the subject of spiritual maturity and how our lives can be divided into roughly two halves. In the first half we are pre-occupied with finding our place in the world, building an identity and making a mark. What I would characterize as a narcissistic drive to “find yourself” but in the second half of life the focus tends to shift away from finding yourself to finding the world and balancing your narcissistic needs with a broader view of your place within it. The quote above sums it up nicely.
According to Rohr, in the first half of life you are pre-occupied with who you are and who you wish to become, in the second half of life you learn what you should be doing as a result. The transition I have undertaken over the past few years has largely been about the latter and I believe that 2014 will be a year when the questions of doing and being will come to dominate my daily life.
The questions of doing are not about dualism – either or. They are more holistic than that. Either or questions are appropriate when you are trying to determine who you are. Once you have established that then the questions you must answer sound a lot more like “both and” questions. There is an inherent tension in trying to live within the container of life you have built for yourself, as Rohr puts it, when surrounded by a broader world that may not share your views. To remain dualistic at this stage of life is to refuse to move beyond the questions of who you are and deny the realities of a complex world.
That is what I think Jesus meant when he told his disciples that they were “in the world but not of the world.”
As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. [John 15:19]
There is a lot to unpack here and I am sure this will be a theme that I will return to over the next little while. Stick with me it might take a while.