In both our life and our creative journey we’ll deal with all sorts of challenges, obstacles, and questions. But both of them could come down basically to two phases: “the morning” and “the afternoon.” Building upon Carl. G. Jung’s theory, Sean Tucker explains how our creative journey can be divided into these two phases and why it’s important to recognize and enjoy both of them.
Sean believes that the way in which we develop as creatives mirrors the way in which we develop as human beings. According to Jung, life can broadly be divided into two halves: the morning and the afternoon, as I mentioned above. We need to see these stages as they are so we can make the best out of them, but also to know when it’s time to let go and move on into the next one. And they differ a lot from each other:
“But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” – Carl Gustav Jung
The morning of life is when our ego gets formed. This is when we decide what we want our lives to look like and make decisions accordingly, and when we form out philosophy about life.
As far as the morning of our creative journey goes, it’s pretty similar. This is when we’re trying to figure out what sort of artists we want to be and what we want our work to look like. This is when we obsess about gear, try out lots of it, and experiment with lots of genres and techniques. During this stage, we’re trying to define our own personal style.
The morning of our creative journey is a very exciting stage, but it can also be very frustrating because you don’t know where exactly you are and what exactly you need and want as a creative. Still, this stage is essential. It may look like a lot of mess, but you’ll learn a lot from it.
Personally, I think I’m still at this stage when it comes to my journey as a creative. I’m nowhere near “the afternoon.” I still have too many projects I’m working on and many art forms I’m exploring, and they’re completely unrelated to each other.
As “the morning” of our life approaches to an end, we’ll reach “the high noon.” And how do you know that you’ve reached it and that you’re about to enter the next stage? Well, in life, this is when the midlife crisis hits. There’s a lot of questioning, evaluating what you’ve built and achieved in the first stage, and was it really what you wanted. Asking yourself if you really made the right decisions.
Reaching the high noon in life can be a very scary moment and there’s an internal war raging inside of you. Personally, I feel that there are more stages like this, not just one, and they usually happen after a big crisis or loss in our life. For me, it happened when I was 29 and left the life I’d built so far. And I’m pretty sure it will get even worse when I’m around 40 or 50. But anyway, whenever this stage occurs, we should take it as a cue to move into the next one and to become a better version of ourselves.
As for the noon of the creative journey, it is exactly the same. there’s a lot of re-evaluating, questioning ourselves, our work, and our success. This is when we start to admit that we may not be so proud of ourselves as we thought we would be. We reassess everything we’ve done and we start building something different. And once again, it’s a sign that we’re ready to enter the next stage.
In the afternoon of life, we’ll reach greater openness. At this stage, we don’t feel the need to desperately define things anymore. We start to slowly and patiently question our previous life and to let go of all of those things that don’t really work. This is when we start to simplify our life, and we only keep things and people that are really meaningful to us. Jung calls this process “individuation”, defining it as “divesting the self of false wrappings.”
In the afternoon of our creative journey, we also want to strip all the excess off and “get down to the good stuff.” But unlike we might do in the earlier stages, we do it patiently. And in the end, we stick with the things that really matter. At this stage, we may start to get rid of our excess gear, let go of some projects that don’t make us fulfilled, and think more about what we want to say with our work.
It’s important to remember that there’s no “good” or “bad” stage. Both “the morning” and “the afternoon” are good and absolutely essential. So, wherever you’re at, be patient with yourself, give yourself time, and enjoy it to the max.