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|Muslims and Midlife Blues - An Islamic Deconstruct|
|04/18/05 at 03:51:13|
BANGALORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA -- While Midlife is a normal stage in life, it is taking a heavy toll on middle-aged Muslims in urban cities.
The stress and strain of urban life style is taking a heavy toll on the middle- aged Muslim. An increasing number of Muslims are suffering from what is termed as Middle age crises.
Midlife is a normal developmental life stage. It is essentially positive and has the specific goal of facilitating the process of becoming a “whole” person. Adolescence transforms individual from a child to an adult. It was not meant to be fun. Midlife also intends to transform an individual. It is trying to guide the individual to psychological and spiritual wholeness. At midlife, most of the people are only half way to that goal. More growth is needed, but a person may have become comfortably stuck where he/she is.
This transition is not easy and is greatly resisted. Midlife is ultimately about the search for true meaning in life. Whenever we ask about meaning, we have asked a spiritual question. Midlife is an opportunity for an awakening into a deeper spirituality.
The midlife experience provides an opening for psychological and spiritual growth that allows and empowers an individual to repay back to others, community and society. But the transition from adolescence to middle age is not smooth. You must suffer the loss of the power of adolescence, change, and letting go of much of what you bring into midlife.
This is an era full of Zeitgeists that seem specially summoned to blow apart the middle-aged male ego. One is our culture’s obsession with youth — a quality to be prized above all others, it seems, in the various rat races to which we are all conscripted. In such a baby face-fixated climate it is quite possible for a man to feel like a reject at 45.
While midlife gives the opportunity to enliven life many people think that it is a time to re-capture lost youth. This is a common but a great misunderstanding. One must ponder deep inside to discover the self and give true meaning to life. Let us look at what the Quran says:.
[i] “We have enjoined on man, to be kind to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength, he says, “O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam.”[/i]( 46:15).
[i] “Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost.”[/i]
Even the Quran says that in the middle age, one must ponder deep and ask for God’s help to discover purpose to our life. Till adolescence all of us struggle to survive in this world and establish some identity. In the Middle age, we all are nearly established and settled. Hence the need is for deeper and more concrete meaning and reason for our existence.
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung identified five psychological states through which an adult in crisis might pass. The first, probably instilled during childhood, is accommodation. For example, you might want to be artist, but your parents pressed you into becoming an accountant. So you accommodate. You repress your true preferences beneath a contrived persona that doesn’t fit you but nevertheless helps you to fit external circumstances. Quite possibly you don’t even know you are repressing anything, so powerful has been your conditioning.
But one day something snaps. This is Jung’s second stage: separation. You start questioning why you behave in ways that don’t make you happy. You realise that your adopted persona is a mask; that it can be separated from your true self.
Which leads to the third, most reckless, stage. Jung, no stranger to pretentiousness, called this “liminality”. A more down-to-earth word would be turmoil. It’s this phase that gives the male midlife crisis its terrible reputation. You throw off the mask. Cut loose. Drift aimlessly. Inflict mindless misdeeds on yourself and those who love you.
These misdeeds will traditionally include chasing women 20 years younger than yourself; impulsively quitting a steady job; and, of course, attempting ludicrously inadvisable physical challenges, like acting young and playing young.
Sooner or later you will self destruct or emerge from this lamentable phase of infantile irresponsibility. The question then is whether you write it off as an aberration, offer profuse apologies to your spouse (if still married to you) and such friends as remain friends, and creep back into your boring old life — or whether you proceed intrepidly to Jung’s much more challenging fourth and fifth stages.
He called the fourth re-integration. By sinking so low, you have discovered things about yourself. Quite possibly they weren’t admirable things (not without reason did Jung call them the shadow self). But at least you now know about them. So you can start building a new persona that is more compatible with your true nature.
Which leads finally to . . . well, Jung’s equivalent of a state of grace. He called it individuation. By now you are aware that there will always be tensions between what you truly desire and what the world expects of you. Between selfishness and selflessness, in other words. But you have not only learnt how to balance these opposing psychological forces, you have also discovered that the very act of reconciling the seemingly irreconcilable is what gives human existence its depth and richness. And, ultimately, its worth and purpose.
In short, you have evolved — after decades of anguish — into that miraculous species that posh private schools claim to be able to nurture after a mere seven years of secondary education.
Namely a rounded, balanced individual.
Uhh....Liminality anyone??? Funny how this article found its way onto my computer screen and when...I see myself, thought not doing things in the sequence that jung constructs above.
So Bros, how about. Mid-Life Crisis anyone? Those of you read my blah blah blah posts from circa 10-9 months ago, may be able to see where I headed with this.
|04/18/05 at 09:42:12|
y bros only? i just had one last night!... but is it just one time you have a mid-life crisis? i regularly want to quit my steady job and go off and do something impulsive. sometimes i think about my life and i want to panic because this isn't what it was supposed to be...but then i think about it and look for where i could have chosen a different path but then realize i couldn't have... guess that's the true meaning of accepting our destiny eh...
maybe we're always fluctuating between liminality and individuation...?
|Re: Muslims and Midlife Blues - An Islamic Deconst|
|04/18/05 at 10:03:26|
I heard that people in their 30s and 40s understand and comprehend more things than ppl in their 20s and below. Mebbe midlife crisis is about ppl suddenly stumbling into the promised land of understanding and comprehension :P and then they suddenly start thinking about things they never thought about before. (Whether it's positive or negative is up to the person I guess).
Ach what do I know...I'm still recovering from coming out of teenagehood ::) :D.
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