|“The Divine Comedy” is about Dante’s midlife crisis and cure.
There are different types of existential crises; the one that can occur at midlife is just the most notorious. To be in crisis is to have your answer — to the questions of what life is all about and how it should be lived — suddenly appear questionable. Bereft of an answer, you have no foundation for your existence, no meaning, no purpose. You find yourself standing over an abyss. In truth, we are always standing over an abyss. Crises, though, are those times when — like the cartoon character Wiley Coyote — we dare to look down and actually notice that we are not standing on anything! Not surprisingly, crises are turbulent, anxious times, when nothing is secure.
Prior to the crisis, our answer seemed solid and secure. Consequently, we were closed, for that is what it is to have an answer. Now, thanks to the crisis, we have a question. And we are open to those powerful, life transforming, insights that are the product of real questioning. That is very good news! And that is why a crisis is akin to an “opportunity knocks” card.
|From film star to Medal of Freedom recipient, Marlene Dietrich rose to the occasion, in time of crisis.
The approach that psychotherapists generally take to crisis is to do whatever it takes to bring us back to who we were before you had the crisis. That may be fine for an emergency, but it is misguided as a long-term strategy. It renders a person an immense disservice, for it means losing that brief window of opportunity when the beginnings of a new life can emerge. It would, indeed, be disappointing to put our boat back in harbor when the wind begins to blow, for the winds of crisis can take us beyond the limits of the known, beyond the narrow confines of our world, to freedom. If we do not leave our former life when the time is ripe, we are likely to shrink and dissipate our life energies. It is, therefore, crucial to undergo a crisis in the right way and at the opportune moment.
|Tolstoy discusses his midlife crisis in his “Confessions.”
There is, of course, a certain type of crisis that occurs in midlife. In youth, the energy of existence goes outward. At midlife, it seeks to return from the ego back to its source, the Self. Midlife crisis, according to C.G. Jung, often has to do with the difficulty in acknowledging this shift in the direction of our life energies. This is all the more true of our shallow, youth-oriented, culture, which finds no value in old age. Whatever the type of crisis, it is important to illuminate one’s past and present life, for clarity burns away the habits, routines, and old ways of thinking that block the life energies. When those energies are freed, something new can emerge.
Click here for a brief discussion of the many types of life transitions that can precipitate an existential crisis. Dr. Dillof offer’s philosophical counseling by telephone and in person. Phone him at: 1-888-737-5724 or local at: (502) 458-7171 or e-mail him at: email@example.com. Although he has offices in Binghamton and Ithaca, NY, he occasionally meets with clients in New York City and speaks, by phone, with clients everywhere from Los Angeles to London, from Berlin to Toronto. FREE 15 minute telephone chat with Dr. Dillof and assessment. Call today! Our telephone/office hours are 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Eastern Standard time, everyday, except Saturday.
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