A fulfilling life for an animal is the pursuit of primal desires. Food, shelter, reproduction are enough. A cheeseburger, an apartment without rain dripping through the roof, and the proximity of some non-matching genitals are enough for our animal-selves.
These physical, objectively-measurable objects line the bottom of our hierarchy of needs. We take care of those things first.
There are basics we need to live on this Earth, and the practical foundation of our lowest nature provides structure on which we can build and climb higher. Societies don’t watch Oprah and talk about “feelings” until our bellies are full. The basics, the lowest common denominators of our animal needs, cannot be denied.
The highest parts of us cannot be ignored, either.
Once we fill our bellies with cheeseburgers and shelter our heads with apartments, we often graduate to fancy meals and mansions. We fill lives with bigger lifestyles, and keep stuffing more and more objects into our lifestyle. Objects once filled our animal needs… and we wonder why something within us still feels “empty.”
Our hearts yearn for more. Our souls yearn for more.
Here is the confusion faced by our First World: This fulfilling “more” does not come from bigger/better/faster food, shelter and sex.
No matter how “big” our animal satisfactions become, they do not fulfill us as human beings. If you look up at a city on a hill and see a billion-dollar home and see a helicopter pad on top of it: look at the man inside his golden helicopter.
Can you see what is within his heart and soul?
Surprisingly to those of us without our own helicopter, his life may or may not be full of meaning and joy.
The observable world is not the totality of our reality.
A fulfilling life for a human, is the pursuit of bigger basics AND the creation of more. We seek to become a full and thriving expression of everything that we are. What we are is more than our bodies. We seek this fulfillment through specific ways of emotionally experiencing our relationships with our world
One word for these ways of relating to the totality of reality, would be “values.”
Observable goals are symbols. It is not the trophy that we want. The object itself is only a symbol. It is the way we feel when the trophy is handed to us, that has meaning.
Objective achievements are not what we ultimately seek. A lifestyle may be made up of achievements, but living is experience.
It is not the white stars on a black sky, or a shoulder under our forearm that is meaningful – it is how we felt as we put an arm around her and looked up at the stars.
I invite you to make a list of the emotional “essences of experience” that you value most.
Find the internal, intimate nature of how you want to relate to the world.
Sometimes this is “the forms of change you want to see in the world.” Sometimes it is what you’ve been afraid other people couldn’t accept.
Find the marrow of moments. Identify the genre of an episode in the show; figure out what you want to feel as you watch your life unfold. What is the personality of your own participation in this thing? What are the flavors you want to taste more of in life?
You are choosing what your moments are filled with, whether you notice your choices or not.
You’ve got maybe 41,000,000 minutes to fill with meaning. A list of values you want to create may come in handy. You’ll know what you truly want, which is to fill those minutes with feeling. You can infuse more of them with feeling alive.