The life span of each individual may be considered as having two parts: In the first part, an individual is challenged to acquire knowledge and build skills which foster success and positive adaptation to the prevailing cultural conditions. This means that one develop a sturdy identity and have at one’s disposal an effective, morally conscious capacity for plan and action. This we understand as an ego. Ultimately, becoming independent of parents and achieving economic productivity means that one has become a contributing member of society. Furthermore, the first half of life also requires that one make a commitment to relationship. Reciprocity with others, building of an intimacy bond in marriage and family, and being a contributing citizen of society are examples of commitments to relationship. In the second half of life, an individual may begin to experience the emergence of deeper questions that relate to the meaning of the one life still left to live before the inevitable; that being death. Due to the more narrow developmental demands of shaping an ego and adapting to culture and society, an individual might leave portions of potential vitality in an unrealized state. An awareness of this incompleteness is the experience of a provisional way of living. This describes the mid-life crisis which is the catalyst of learning to “live the unlived life.” As one moves into the later stages of life, loss and the anticipation of death becomes a living reality. The crucial question then in the second half of life is for one to find meaning, purpose, and some sense of one’s destiny. At the other extreme, the loss of meaning at the end of life can leave one filled with emptiness, bitterness, fear, and regret. The second half of life then is a time of inward reflection as material gain in the outer world gives way to a search for participation in the eternal mystery, that of the infinite. For many individuals there is a natural desire to seek meaning in the face of being born yet having to grasp the certainty of death. Our search for that something greater than physical existence underscores one’s spiritual quest.
Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling
question of his life… .If we understand and feel that here in this life
we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.
In the final analysis, we count for something only because
of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that,
life is wasted”.