What do you think creates a fulfilling life? Not a perfect life, not an ideal life… but what qualities do you think create true fulfillment?
I think about life a lot. More accurately, I essentially have a weekly existential crisis. (Dramatic? Who? What?)
I think about various events – what they might mean – or rather, how I can choose to derive meaning from them. I can’t say I’ve drawn any solid conclusions, but the longer I live, the more I create hypotheses and philosophies that help me to make sense of my own life and experiences.
My thoughts are that fulfillment is created not simply by joyful interactions – but a symphony of diverse and varied moments and experiences. That true fulfillment is found in the collection of the unique and vast emotions we experience.
Operating by this philosophy means that living a life without tragedy, hardship, or challenge – would be equally as sad as living a life without passion, kindness, or love.
So I find it incredibly fascinating that it’s in our human nature to avoid pain at all costs… and if we subscribe to the belief that experiencing pain is synonymous with fulfillment, isn’t it interesting that we are incidentally avoiding fulfillment. Sort of poetic. Like something Shakespeare would write about.
I often wonder about these duelling forces within us. That part of us that strives for ease, painlessness, stagnance, monotony, predictability, patterns, routine… and a deeper, more knowing part, that seems to understand that those uncomfortable shifts are exactly what prepare us to feel incredible moments of triumph, exultation, and love.
I think this deeper knowing is the reason we do dumb things like have children, or start a book club. Ultimately we’re looking for ways to challenge ourselves. To create ourselves a fulfilling and rewarding life experience (that, counter-intuitively, involves a lot of poop, or those tiny triangle sandwiches… preferably not at the same time though.)
I‘m daunted by the concept of raising a child in a world that has become such a padded room. Where children have no opportunity for small bursts of independence, and adventure. They can’t be trusted to explore, and navigate their own path.
I wonder often if our inclination to have our children avoid all pain and risk is less about their experience… and more about ours.
We give birth to this human that is this walking, breathing, extension of the deepest most vulnerable part of our heart. And it’s just out there… and anything that happens to that little being, however much it affects them, it affects us 100 fold.
So when we impulsively intervene; intercept them from experiencing any and all forms of pain and icky-ness – what’s really happening? Are we saving them? Or are we saving ourselves? Is there the potential that we’re inadvertently teaching them to avoid things that create a diverse and meaningful life-experience?
I’m humble enough to candidly admit that without my having experienced my own DNA freely walking around in the world, it’s not necessarily my place to say – but while my husband and I discuss embarking on the great journey of parenthood, my imagination inevitably expands on what that might look like for us.
In the mean time, I will keep aiming to question, explore, discover, and uncover what I can, and the ways that I might draw fulfilment and meaning from my own life experience. Poop, triangle sandwiches, and all.