Rebirth—Dying with Life
Jung’s last task of aging, “Rebirth — dying with life," is a familiar theme throughout the religious genre, but he was not thinking religion when he framed that task.Success in prosecuting this task leads to loss fear of life and death alike. Rebirth after dying with life transports a person into the timeless domains of an artist lost in his or her work or a child absorbed in play when living in the time of a delicious moment is all that matters.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high-ee) is a professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. Besides being a famous guy with an
almost unpronounceable name, he has devoted his life's work to the study of
what makes people truly happy, satisfied and fulfilled.
Csikszentmihalyi is famous for his ideas about mental flow in creativity. He says people enter a flow state when they are fully absorbed in activity during which they lose their sense of time and have feelings of great satisfaction.
Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." (Italics added.)
That description of the transcendental effects of flow resounds with Maslow’s description of the mental state of people who reach the lofty realms of self-actualization. He described them as having reached a child-like state of total absorption in the moment. Maslow said, “Self-actualization means experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption.” The self-actualizer passes through the time barrier where on the other side, “a day is a minute and a minute is a day.”
Shakespeare poignantly captures the timelessness that comes with rebirth in King Lear’s soliloquy to his daughter Cordelia in the time of their dying as though it were the time of their living for the first time:
…Come, Let’s away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i’the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who’s in , who’s out;
And take upon’s the mystery of things,
As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out,
In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by th’moon.
—The Tragedy of King Lear, Act V/Scene 3
One important take-away is that once our fear of life and death subside to do no more than an occasionally being a nuisance factor, the intellectual fraud that is the common fodder of marketing becomes boundlessly less tolerable.
Reflect for a moment on the central thrust of marketing: appeal to the ego through invocation of narcissistic and materialistic values. While developmentally immature personalities will always be part of mature society, aging boomers in general will reflect growing submersion of the egocentric self that has long been the principal target of consumer marketing.
And so it is that as the average age in the consumer universe continues rising, consumer resistance to traditional marketing will only increase unless a wave of professional rebirths takes place in the world of marketing.