After four months of preparation, two months of quarantine, social distancing and self-isolation, a quote from my psychology hero of the late 1800s became particularly poignant as my 2020 career plans unfolded … or actually unravelled!
Psychology forefather Carl Jung quoted,
“The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it”.
Contemplating this quote while embracing my decade of the 4s, it sparked a beacon of solace and rejuvenation. I found it so profound it became part of my email signature. I would get a joyful dose of it with daily emails in the lead up to my overseas trip to NYC.
Four months preparing my 8-minute TEDx style talk even had me produce a short film to include in my NYC stage presentation. Thanks to a very talented cast and crew, my key characters Einstein, Tesla and Jung were brought to life and about to “join us all” on stage from the screen.
To say I was excited was an understatement! Jung’s quote, my own second half of life, going inward, letting go of my old self for my new self was all in full flight and ready for life-take-off in NYC!
Little did I know on touchdown at JFK airport, that this quote would become my lighthouse to manage an increasing societal wave of stress. It became a guiding light during the first pandemic I’d experience in my lifetime, 9600 miles away from home.
My “second half of life” had a different idea of how it would project me forward to “let go” of my former healthy ego!
Two days after I landed in NYC, Broadway was shut down. Two days after that, restaurants and cafes shut. Apprehension about what I’d be able to access for meals (there was no cooking in my hotel room) was settled with most places doing delivery and takeaway. Then the speaking event was cancelled as a meet and greet event. My whole reason for being in NYC disappeared. I was crushed inside.
Jung became my invisible mentor.
The wisdom energy of this Jung quote became my guiding force.
This pandemic, the lock downs and quarantine were a test for me.
The essence of the message started to become a fire in my gut.
Would I let the pandemic stress me out? To see only how I was restricted? To feel resentful that I lost thousands of dollars for this NYC event only to have it all “disappear” within days?
Or would I use this pandemic as an opportunity to touch the essence of what Carl Jung reminded me of? To go inward and let go.
It was in the midst of this personal upheaval in NYC that another of Jung’s quotes kindly pinched my mind,
“He who looks outside, dreams. He who looks inside, awakens”.
I got the message. I went silent. I sat in Central Park. I listened. Within.
While news reports were trying to catch up and guidelines were confusing, we as a community continued to walk around the streets of NYC quite calm. But listening within alerted me to a quiet tremble. This calmness wasn’t going to last. It was time to cut this trip short.
Never in my 24-year traveller’s life have I cut short my overseas travels. Especially not after months of planning.
I finally managed to get on a flight home the next day. One day before our Prime Minister grounded flights. Two days before NYC went into the pandemic lockdown.
My older, healthy ego would NOT have cut my trip short. Would not have let go of thousands of dollars already spent to simply go home again. My older, healthy ego would’ve seen through what I started, come rain or shine.
After all, THIS trip and NYC were about my second of half of life kicking off with a bang. Setting the stage (literally and metaphorically) for my next phase of life, my rebranded and expanded business. Well, that was certainly happening. And it was all looking very different to what I envisioned.
But Jung didn’t let me down.
Carl Jung was of an era that self-observation and self-experimentation was the norm for understanding psychological principles and clinical psychology dynamics. Nowhere was this more evident in his private journal writing of The Red Book.
As though Jung was on a zoom call with me, his two quotes infiltrated me even deeper. Another statement in The Red Book leapt out to bring this second half of life transition to a fulfilling close. Jung journaled,
“In putting down all this material for analysis, I was in effect writing letters to my anima, that is part of myself with a different viewpoint from my own. I got remarks of new character”.
Anima is the latin word for SOUL.
Given I was talking about connecting more consciously with our soul-level strengths, this just closed the gap for me. That I was to speak on stage about how applying our soul-level strengths were our competitive edge when applied to cooperative ends, was rather poignant in light of how my NYC trip turned out.
It felt like Jung’s wise quotes were all there for me to TRULY drop into my own soul-level strengths with an even deeper level of integration. And this time, with an expansive, worldly experience to buoy me through it.
All this time, I was looking to NYC to help me let go of my early, healthy ego. A new me coming back to Australia.
Instead, Jung’s silent mentoring helped me realize, I had already let go. Thanks to what I already created in my signature stage talk and my short film production. BEFORE I even got on the plane.
It took me traveling near 10,000 miles and a total of 72 hours in the air to see my renewed self was already in action. Despite being in the heart of the increasing societal wave of stress, Jung’s quote awakened my calm resolve.
To look at the soul-level power I already had, rise above the stress and ground it with calm resolve in every step and each discerning decision. Truthfully, wide-eyed with self-honestly and unapologetically. To look within and awaken on a wholly deeper level.
Thank you Carl Jung, let’s zoom call again!
PS. I actually consider myself to be in the second 1/3 of my life, as I intend to live to age 110-120!! See what changes happen in my lifetime, over a century, is enticing to me!
Dr. Elizabeth Celi, Psychologist & Leadership Coach, Australia
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