The Bookends of Ego.
What if our primary operating system for life is meant to change in midlife and beyond? Psychologist Carl Jung suggested, “The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego; the second half is going inward and letting go of it.”
We grow up with the wonder of a child, often feeling at one with parents, pets, and nature. And, then, as the child transitions into adolescence, a psychological phenomenon occurs. Christian mystic Richard Rohr calls it “the creation of the container.” The ego, which emerged early in life as a means of individuating, becomes a driving force. And, then, we drive that powerful operating system into adulthood. Some of us revving our engines and, a few in midlife, trading our vehicle in for a sportier, younger model.
But, as the concept of middlescence is becoming popularized (just like adolescence was 115 years ago), maybe one key purpose of middlescence is to mark the end of the era in which our ego is our primary operating system. Maybe around the time of midlife, menopause, and mid-career transitions, our primary operating system shifts to our soul, and we begin embodying the wisdom of an elder?
Is it possible that what we’ve labeled as “midlife crisis” since 1965 is just a profound, but momentary change in our perspective on what operating system we’ll run the rest of our lives?