The world is the canvas on which we paint our lives. Through this lifelong work, we express personal vision, develop skills, and come to terms with the realities of our outer and inner worlds. The first major stage of adaptation, the transition from child to adult, requires readiness to separate from protective life structures in pursuit of outer world goals. It entails developing a strong, flexible ego devoid of overly negative or idealistic beliefs about self and world, a progressive orientation, and ability to cope with disappointment.
In the second half of life, the adaptive task is introverted, and consists of relating to and integrating contents of the unconscious. While most of us come to recognize and adapt to ego’s limited control over external-world actualities, realizing the autonomy of the inner world is less universal. Jung described this process in his memoir, Memories, Dreams, Reflections as his confrontation with the unconscious. This process of adaptation led him–and can lead us–to living in relationship to something larger, the Self.
I’m standing outside of a pool and my sons (6 and 10) are in the pool with my ex-husband. My mother is sitting near me. I realize I need to go to the bathroom and shout to my ex-husband to take care of our youngest son. As I turn my back at the pool I see a frogman, he has the body of a man and the head of a frog. He is sitting as a frog on the floor. I’m surprised and fascinated by it. His skin is dark blue with small light green and light blue freckles. His eyes are green. It is raining and he seems to be enjoying the water. I call my brother so he can see the creature; my brother appears as a little boy and the frogman sits at a table with my brother that asks him many questions about his origin. The frogman speaks to my brother while I go to the bathroom. When I return the frogman is sitting on a small stairway, like waiting for me. I see him and I ask him if I can touch his skin. He lets me touch his arm; it is shiny and beautiful like a night full of stars. I don’t remember if I kiss him or hug him. He asks me to go with him and I tell him that I have other things to do. I walk down a street and find a busy avenue with heavy traffic. I have to cross to the other side but it seems hard, like a complex coordination of moves and traffic lights. I see the frogman walking on the other side of the avenue.
C.G. Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Amazon).