A couple of years ago, I was experimenting with a new journal style (for those of you who don’t know this about me, I’ve kept some form of journal or diary since 1973). I bought a blank book, then wrote a list of words on the first page. The challenge was to take one word at a time and write about it until I didn’t have anything else to say.
Most words on the list took two or more pages to fully explore, though a couple took less. For the word “fulfillment”, I wrote:
“My life has always been full. Full of work, full of activity, full of obligations, full of ‘shoulds’, full of food, full of fears, full of expectations, anticipation, potential. It was so full I was completely overwhelmed much of the time.
It has only been recently that I’ve realized that a life can be very full without being filled. My goal now is to figure out what I need to do or change to experience ‘filled’. The paradox is that the first step is to pare down, purge, create space. There has to be less to make more.”
So, here I am, a couple of years older and, hopefully, worlds wiser. My life is still full, especially in August. But it is also much further along the way to being filled. And by filled I actually mean something akin to sated or satisfied. The activities on which I spend my energy are meaningful in ways that I hadn’t really experienced when I wrote the journal entry above. And I was definitely onto something when I said the first step was to create space.
In the quest to make space in my life, I have had to examine my time and figure out what stays and what goes. I purged my closets, my craft room, my psychic baggage. I now spend a lot less time filling time, and a lot more engaging in experiences that are satisfying at the soul-deep level. I’ve learned that really good, and good for you, food sates your appetite in a way that junk never will — and this is true for the things I put my heart into, as well the things I put into my mouth.
A few weeks ago, an old friend said to me, “You have a very full life.” I hadn’t thought of it, but I loved hearing it. My life is full in the sense I imagined it could be when I wrote that journal piece. This kind of full, this style of fulfillment, leaves plenty of room for growth and adventure. For new people and places. And it creates its own atmosphere of contentment even in the harried and difficult seasons of the year.