Mythic Wisdom: A Greek Author’s Perspective

Connecting the past with the present has always been a powerful experience for me, maybe because I live in a land rich in history. In this blog I am going to explore a variety of topics, which I find deeply meaningful: women’s roles, gender and sexuality issues, activism, goddesses and gods, etc. By examining myths, symbols, and archetypal figures, I feel that we gain a fresh perspective on our lives and society. Ancient history, art, and literature can become amazing sources of inspiration. By learning from the wisdom of the past, we can transform ourselves and the world we live in.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Finding Meaning and Inspiration at Midlife

Have you ever wondered why “midlife crisis” is such a taboo subject? If everybody who lives long enough goes through it at some point or other, then why isn’t it openly discussed? My sense is that there’s a lot of stigma around this phase in life. Being middle-aged often means feeling vulnerable and vulnerability isn’t particularly acceptable in the kind of world we live in.

In a sexist society, women are expected to always be in tiptop shape. We’re supposed to stay fit and healthy, youthful-looking, and attractive, as well as caring, nurturing, and productive. At midlife, we realize that trying to fulfill all these functions is not just impossible—it’s detrimental to our physical and mental health. The constant pressure to measure up to impossible social standards is taking its toll on us. No wonder so many middle-aged women are feeling frustrated, stressed, and depressed. I’ve had my share of these feelings.

Experts talk about middle age as the time when we have to give up the “unrealistic expectations” of youth. They usually fail to say what caused these “unrealistic expectations” to begin with: a social system that bombards us with false promises of happiness, success, and everlasting love.

At midlife, many of us have come to see some unsettling patterns: Romantic relationships, after the initial enthusiasm fades, usually go down the path of estrangement. The hope of a fulfilling career evaporates in a world of poverty, unemployment, and alienated labor. Happiness seems like a faraway dream as our living standards are falling, sexism and racism are rampant, and the far right is rising.

For me, the hardest part has been the realization of just how toxic this society is. As time goes by, I can see more and more clearly that we live in a social system that poisons everything: our environment, relationships, work, and economy, as well as our minds and bodies. I think midlife is the time when most people feel the full impact of that poison.

These are painful realizations. Susan Rosenthal, one of my favorite authors, makes a powerful point in one of her articles: “Growing daily misery is compounded by the horror of perpetual war and environmental destruction. If you open your mind to the barbarism of capitalism, you are traumatised. If you close your mind to it, you lose your humanity.”

I feel traumatized by the toxicity I see all around me, the poison that has affected my own life and those of others in myriad ways. Dealing with trauma is never easy, so I’m afraid I have no fast and hard solutions to offer. I can only discuss what has proven effective in my case: I have chosen to work part time, at least for as long as I can afford to. This has provided a huge relief from work-related stress and feelings of alienation. It has also given me the opportunity to focus on the things that are most meaningful to me. Devoting more time to my inner world, meditating, and writing about my thoughts and emotions, has had a significant healing effect on me.

But going inwards is not enough. I’ve been an activist for decades, fighting for social justice and calling for an end to all forms of oppression and discrimination. I know from experience that mass movements can make a difference. They have an impact on a country’s politics and, of equal importance, on people’s minds. Those who are spiritually inclined sometimes say “we can change the world by changing ourselves.” I can certainly appreciate the importance of doing the hard work to bring about inner change. However, my involvement in activism has shown me that we change ourselves during our efforts to change the world.

I won’t pretend that activism is an easy path. It has its share of stressors, risks, and disappointments. But it also has a powerful transformative effect. It takes us away from feelings of isolation and helplessness and shows us the way of solidarity and hope. My personal way of being an activist is infused by Goddess ideals and archetypal energies, as I have written in other articles. It has expanded my horizons and enriched my inner world. It has also helped me connect with many wonderful people who share my passion for social change.        

For me activism has always been a sacred path, a source of meaning and inspiration, and a way to connect with something greater than myself. In the women’s spirituality movement, we often say that the Goddess is the embodiment of change. What better way to honor her than to devote our life to changing the world?

 

Last modified on

Harita Meenee is a Greek independent scholar of classical studies and women’s history. Her graduate studies were in the field of archetypal and women’s psychology. She works as a writer, translator and editor while also being a human rights activist. Harita has presented cultural TV programs and has lectured at universities in Greece and the US. She is the author of five books, as well as of numerous articles and essays published in Hellenic and international anthologies and magazines.

Comments

Additional information