Hildegard of Bingen experienced a profound spiritual transformation in her early 40s. In hindsight, the experience resembled that of a yogini’s kundalini awakening process or Jung’s version of individuation. Hildegard’s midlife transition, and her process of approaching wholeness and integration, resulted in the most creative period in her life.
Like Hildegard, we hope to nurture a creative self, bringing together both conscious and unconscious. Ideally, the second half of life reflects transformation and awakening. We awaken the greening of viriditas, living with passion and compassion.
Hildegard at 40: An Inspiration for Midlife Transition
A few among us, arguably the lucky, seem to possess an easy sense of purpose, like some inner compass that holds their bearing true. From an early age they seem to just know what they desire to be or what to deploy their energy into with an outward determination that to the outside observer might as well be culled from the ether.
For most of us, however, it is some combination of providence and necessity that leads us in (and out of) all varieties of endeavors before the tendrils of life root us into what we are.
A Personal Evolution and Transformation
Through the gradual process of becoming what we are, there is often a sense that it just kind of happened. We wake up one day and there it is in the mirror. But we are a product of our choices. So we choose to make these transitions – every day, large or small, but we choose this life.
Our story at Healthy Hildegard is one of midlife transition. What we create here is both a product and a function of our individual and collective journeys through these transitions.
Regardless of how we got here – by compass or meander, midlife is an opportunity for all of us to assess whether or not we are honoring our true selves, how we are choosing to live our lives, and what we are going to do in order to live a better life as we move forward.
Within these questions resides the essence of the midlife transition: (how) are you going to let your light shine?
Sing Your Song: Letting Go To Let Yourself Grow
“Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes’ (1809-1894) “The Voiceless”
Within any transition there is opportunity. Harnessing this opportunity comes down to whether we choose to see opportunities as problems or problems as opportunities.
Just like setting healthy goals is about how we frame the goals as much as the goal itself, a positive and actionable perspective about midlife will allow us to see this as a time of opportunity in spite of all that seems to be moving away from us in our physical bodies.
After all, not all that long ago the dreadful throws of puberty felt like the end of the world as often as it felt like the beginning of life as adult. Nobody said these things were always pretty.
Awakening the Inner Child
A successful midlife awakening does not require us to kill our inner child or give up the joys or trivialities of youth. On the contrary, if we truly desire to be present in life, we must let go of the over-protective ego that shelters us from reality.
It is not about death, killing this or that. It is about truth, most importantly, whether or not we are living those truths.
Embracing the Creative Energy
Embracing this honesty and letting go of all of the lies we tell ourselves is what will ultimately allow us to awaken that creative energy within us to create change in our lives. So find your song, and sing it!
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese Proverb
Not a Crisis of Life, But a Gift of Time
Too often these opportunities to embrace a midlife transition are categorized as an unhealthy attachment to youth or the death throws of an ego bent on reliving the glory years or making up for missing out. There is some truth to the cliché of the midlife crisis, of course, but we choose not to frame these life transitions as pathology, nor should the glow of youth or glory of accomplishment be sequestered to the past.
Midlife is just that: the middle of the (expected) life span. But we can never know the span of our own lives, so this midlife we speak of is really just life in the present. Each day is a gift. And who, aside from you and your faith, is to say what you should be doing in the middle of your life, what you choose to do with your gift
Opportunity and Abundance to Revisit Youth
No doubt many of us struggle with a sense of purpose, identity, and declining physicality during midlife. And there are plenty of times when midlife hardly feels like a gift, but it is also far from a crisis. Whatever existential rifts exist, be sure that they are more likely a product of our decadent culture of obsessive navel-gazing and option optimization as opposed to something lacking or broken in you.
Which is why we frame midlife transition in the perspective of opportunity and abundance. If not for the passage of time, that retreat of youth into the sepia glow of nostalgia, we would not have the tools, the vision, and the perspective we need to make the midlife transition we desire.
If not for the abundance of opportunity and generative energy already inside of us, we would be too busy, too tired, or too enslaved to contemplate such things.
The time is now.