Back to Back Issues Page
Midlife Wisdom for Men Newsletter Issue #014, July 15, 2004
July 15, 2004
Midlife Wisdom for Men - Helping Men Navigate Midlife Transitions.


Written by Noel McNaughton
(c) copyright 2004


If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a big favour and forward it him. If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting Midlife Wisdom for Men. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

July 15, 2004 Issue #013

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

The Spiritual Journey Requires Non-Intuitive Action

Divorce after 50 (Statistics)

The Lifeshirt


Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

We had a bit of a rain and hail storm here in Edmonton a few days ago. Some folks had their cars submerged in freeway underpasses, and others had their basements flooded. We were lucky in that we experienced neither indignity, but I had taken my grandchildren to a Street Performers Festival, and we sure had an interesting trip home!

You will see I found some Scottish humour for this issue. Being of Scottish blood somewhere in my background, I figure its ok to use :-)

Ok, here we go...


The Spiritual Journey Requires Non-Intuitive Action

I love myths and folktales because they tell, in metaphoric or symbolic form, the truths of life. A good story has a different meaning for each reader or listener, so the interpretation of a story by an 'expert', although interesting, is no more valid than your own interpretation, as far as I am concerned.

I have read hundreds of folktales, and have discovered there are certain patterns that are repeated in tales from different ages and cultures. Carl Jung would call them archetypal patterns.

One pattern features a hero, usually a young man, who ends up in a big house or castle, that is owned by a man, or sometimes an old woman, with some daughters - usually up to three. To me, this pattern tells the story of the 'non-intuitive' nature of spiritual growth.

The hero in these stories is given three impossible tasks by the owner of the mansion, who although hospitable, turns out to be a wizard, or some other powerful but evil character.

The hero is then approached secretly by the daughter, or if there are more than one, the youngest daughter, who gives him secret information about how to accomplish the impossible task.

For example the task might be to clear a thicket of shrubs or trees. The wizard will offer the hero two axes - one which is new and sharp, the other which is dull and rusty and full of nicks. The daughter will instruct the hero to choose the dull axe. But the hero, being ego-driven will choose the new axe.

When he goes to clear the thicket, the trees grow back faster than he can cut them. At midday the daughter comes to see how he is doing, and tells him he should have chosen the dull axe as she suggested. She then tells him to lay down and rest, and she finishes the job for him.

The same thing happens with each of the tasks he is given... the hero chooses the wrong tool (the one that makes sense from a logical point of view), and the daughter has to finish the task for him. It may be emptying a well with a leaky pail, or cleaning out a cow shed with a broken down shovel, or some other seemingly impossible task.

After the youth, who has accomplished the tasks with the help of the daughter (in some cases it is just a young woman who has been captured by the wizard and his wife), is finished all the tasks (normally three), he is given permission to marry the daughter the next day.

The daughter tells him they must flee that night because the wizard plans to kill them. She instructs the young hero to go to the barn and saddle the skinniest horse, but again the youth chooses the best-looking horse, leaving the skinniest, which is the fastest, for the wizard to ride when trying to catch up to them.

They flee, and when, sometime later in the night, the wizard discovers they are gone and comes after them, the daughter uses her magical powers to create obstacles for the wizard.

Maybe she tells the youth to reach onto the horse's ear, where he finds various items, which he throws behind them. He might find a comb, which when he throws behind them becomes an impenetrable forest, forcing the wizard to go back for his magic axe.

As they flee they throw other things, usually three in all, which create obstacles such as mountain ranges and rivers as well as forests.

The young couple eventually outruns the wizard, or he drowns in the lake they create, and they get back to the young man's home village. He leaves her at the edge of town, goes to greet his family, then forgets about her.

Some time passes, and he is about to marry a girl from town when the young woman comes along and helps him remember her, and they get married.

In this kind of story, the young woman can represent our inner, or spiritual nature, which can help us accomplish what our ego self can never do. It has 'magical power', but the ego, represented by the boy's choices, and by the evil wizard, is threatened by this magical power, fearing its own death.

It seems counter-intuitive to choose the broken-down tools, but the spiritual path demands surrender, not logic.

Spiritual experiences can seem subtle even though they are real. We may even tend to discount, or forget them, just as the young man forgets the girl that saved his life, when he gets back to the 'real world' of his village and family.

But spiritual experiences must be recognized and honoured if they are to have a useful role in our lives, and in the folktales, the youth eventually does remember the young woman and marries her.


At an auction in Glasgow a wealthy American announced that he had lost his wallet containing 10,000 and would give a reward of 100 to the person who found it.

From the back of the hall a Scottish voice shouted, "I'll give 150!"


Divorce after 50

There is an article in the most recent issue of AARP magazine ( ) (the magazine of the American Association of Retired Persons) entitled A House Divided. It says divorce among the over-50 group is on the rise, and increasingly, it is women who do the walking.

AARP Magazine commissioned a survey of 1147 men and women, ages 40 to 79 who experienced a divorce in their 40s, 50s or 60s.

Here are some of the results:

  • 66 percent of women reported they had asked for the divorce, compared with 41 percent of men.

  • More men (26%) than women (14%) were caught off-guard by their divorce (i.e. didn't know it was coming)

  • It takes longer for people over 40 to decide on divorce. About 1/3 of the women, and 21% of the men started thinking about splitting two years or longer before the actual event.

  • 58% of men, compared with 37% of women, stayed in an unsatisfying marriage because of the kids. The men were more worried (justifiably) than the women, about losing the kids.

  • Almost half (47%) of the people surveyed had been divorced once before, when they were younger

  • 75% of women, and 81% of men enjoyed a serious, exclusive relationship after their divorce - often within two years. The number one reason both gave for getting 'back into action' was to prove to themselves that they were getting on with their lives. For men, sex ranked a close second.

  • One in four men in their 50s, and a third in their 60s and older, said they had sex with a new partner as a means of coping with the stress of the divorce. Alcohol was the second most frequent coping mechanism. Women used exercise and retreating into work to help them cope.

  • Against society's expectations, and in spite of the pain, midlife divorce tends to leave a normal, healthy and optimistic man or woman in its wake. They reported roughly the same measures of happiness as other single Americans their own age, and those who remarried also scored very high. This was true regardless of who made the decisions to split, or how long the marriage had lasted.


A Scotsmen and a Jewish man were having a magnificent meal at one of the finest restaurants in New York. At the end of the evening the waiter came over to present the check and a Scottish voice said "that's all right laddie just gae the check to me".

The headlines in the local newspaper next day proclaimed "Jewish ventriloquist found beaten to death".


What Will They Think of Next?

The LIFESHIRT is worn like a normal shirt but contains sensors that monitor respiration and cardiac function. The washable shirt allows doctors to track patients' physiological functions as they sleep and perform daily activities. For more information, contact the manufacturer at 805-667-2225, or . (Thanks for Bottom Line Health Newsletter for that tidbit.)


Men who have pierced ears are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewellery.


Just For You: A Free Do-It-Yourself Retirement Planning Report

If you are a new subscriber to this newsletter, you will recall I promised you a link to a secret page on the Midlife Men's site where you can download a free 27-page report on 'DIY Retirement planning' by George Slater.

Welcome to the newsletter, and for your free report, go to: DIY Retirement E-Report , click on the link, and follow the instructions.



Learn to be a Teleclass Facilitator

If you are a facilitator/speaker/professional who gives lectures or workshops, you can do it from home and make money. Teleclasses (also known as teleseminars) using telephone bridge lines, are becoming increasingly popular, and and a very inexpensive way to deliver high-quality training. I took training in teleclass leadership from Teleclass International which I highly recommend.



If you have something you want to advertise, just send me a note at



Is Your Computer Slower Than When You Got It? And Are You Protected From Hackers? Performance Pro is a POWERFUL little program that gives you:

  • Personal Firewall - Protect your privacy against online snoopers and hackers
  • System Cleaner - Delete old, unnecessary files that waste valuable disk space
  • File Shredder - Securely shred files and folders with military precision, so they cannot ever be recovered
  • Speed up general system performance and hard drive searching performance
  • Block annoying pop-ups and banner ads - this alone speeds up your Internet browsing experience!
  • Delete all traces of your Internet usage, so nobody will ever know where you have been online


I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

Back to Back Issues Page