Krisis, the ancient Greek word from which the modern term is derived, doesn’t mean something terrible. It means a ‘turning point,’ a moment for a major decision. Nick Seneca Jankel
I believe it was Carl Jung who said that at midlife all crises are crises of spirit. When we look around us, as so much of life has passed by, it’s easy and tempting to blame others or circumstances for our lot in life. In truth, we have made and we own all that is in our life, right now.
Crisis has been translated, probably incorrectly, from the Chinese hanzi as danger and opportunity. While this may not be the case and a product of rather shabby academic work, when crisis comes we are all about basically saving our own hide. There seems to be little time for opportunity in crisis.
But I think there is often an opportunity in crisis. Life is showing us in vivid and unmistakable terms that things we have swept under the rug are not gone forever. The undealt with will make its presence known, relentlessly.
While we have to deal with the emergency, beneath it and within it is also an opportunity. We can become depressed by the upset of danger and cut off from a vibrant life, or we can choose to become determined to find that opportunity.
As I’ve aged, like most of us, I still feel like the same young guy I’ve always been, but my body tells me a different story. An ache and pain here, a systemic assault there and suddenly there is an emergency that needs attention if we are to continue to live. What then is the opportunity I will find at the bottom of such a crisis?
While these symptoms have a physical basis, ultimately they are symptomatic of a spiritual malaise, a derailment from the course of life we intended to lead. How do we get back on track at times like this when a bad diagnosis or pain catches us by surprise? First of all, we haven’t been paying attention, or perhaps I’ve been in denial, imagine that.
While we know our life will end, it’s always something that lies down the road a bit. When we are faced with the undeniable facts of a frightening situation, the theoretical becomes existential. Suddenly, the inevitable seems much closer than we’d imagined. We’ve been paying attention to what’s urgent, rather than what’s important in life.
Our challenge is to deal with the emergency as well as we can and then explore the opportunity that lies beneath. Life is asking us to work through the stresses and strains of being and identify the spiritual crisis that is making its presence known through pain or illness. Only when we are clear about the spiritual crisis can we heal the physical one.