The Cycle of Life

Themes and Tales of the Journey 

 

"The art of life is the most distinguished and rarest of all the arts."

-C.G. Jung, CW 8, par. 789

 

In the first half of life, the task of the young traveler is to depart from home, to step out into the world in search for his or her adventure, to find his or her own individual path. However, in the second half, we find ourselves on what often amounts to a very long journey in search of Home. In many a tale, the hero, for instance Gilgamesh, sets off on his road to find life’s elixir, while other stories, such as the Odyssey, revolve around the hero’s long and arduous journey home.

This archetypal journey of life is constantly repeated along the never-ending process of individuation. We find ourselves returning to this venture repeatedly, every night, as we set out on our nightly voyage into the landscape of our unconscious. Many dreams begin by being on the way, for instance, “I am on my way to …,” I am driving on a road that leads into the desert …,” I am walking through one room after the other in a long corridor-like building …,” “I am walking towards my office, but it looks different than in reality,” “I walk on the pavement and on the opposite side of the street someone seems to follow me …,” “I go down into an underground parking…,” “I am in my car, but someone I don’t know is driving,” or, “I have to go to the place from where I came ...”

Prominently, we are familiar with the journey of Dante, who at the very beginning of his Divine Comedy finds himself “Midway along the journey of our life.”