Today, a letter to slow read. This is not just any letter, it is a letter from Carl Jung to a friend when he was 82 years old. The friend, Schmaltz, asks if he could spend a few days with him at Bollingen for an exchange of ideas. This is his response. We could have just excerpted the part about the value of solitude, but felt that the whole letter cold offer some reflections on the context and needs of old age. Or, as Jung puts it how in old age we need to live in harmony with the inner demands of ageing.
I understand your wish very well, but must tell you at once that it does not fit in with my situation.
I am now getting on for 82 and feel not only the weight of my years and the tiredness this brings, but even more strongly, the need to live in harmony with the inner demands of my old age.
Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often are a torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words.
I have got my marching orders and only look back when there’s nothing else to do.
This journey is a great adventure in itself, but not one that can be talked about at great length.
What you think of as a few days of spiritual communion would be unendurable for me with anyone, even with my closest friends.
The rest is silence!
This realization becomes clearer every day as the need to communicate dwindles.
Naturally I should be glad to see you one afternoon for about two hours, preferable in Kusnacht, my door to the world. Around August 5th would suit me best, as I shall be at home then in any case.
Meanwhile with best greetings,
Yours ever, Jung. [Letter written May 30, 1957] Source
This Daily Stillness has been recycled from previously published ones:
• #tds1883 Dear Schmaltz (Aug 25, 2020)