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A Moment of Fulfillment

Dec 11, 2007

by Tim


For years I struggled to “find” fulfillment. Then one day I read something that knocked me out: “You don’t find meaning in life, you create it.

It was an “aha” moment. I recoiled in shame at having taken so long to recognize this obvious truth …

What had I been thinking? That I would stumble upon Fulfillment while pulling clothes from a laundromat dryer? That Fulfillment would suddenly visit me as I delivered free travel guides in my Volkswagen?

That was a long time ago, and I still struggle for fulfillment (at least now I’m working to create, not “find” it). But ten years ago life taught me another big lesson about Fulfillment.

It was after my first child was born. I was sitting in a comfortable chair in the living room, rocking six-month-old Ray, when he went to sleep in my arms. As I looked into his baby face, I was suddenly overcome with a rush of love I could never adequately describe in words. The feeling was overwhelming. Maybe it’s something only a parent can understand; certainly it’s beyond my powers of expression as a writer.

At that moment, I understood very clearly, for the first time, that there was, finally, something in life more important than my so-called “career.” I realized that, for years, I had subordinated everything—my relationship with my wife, my friendships, my personal intereststo the almighty “career” (and believe me, it wasn’t all that mighty a career).

Now, swept by feelings of love, I felt my overblown career aspirations evaporate like fog on a sunny morning. Now there was something greater to live for. Now, if only I could become a decent father to my son, success—real success—would be mine.

What a relief to feel this way! What a comfort to know fulfillment, even for a few brief moments. But most important, what a relief to realize that no, I didn’t have to set the world on fire career-wise to findmake that createsuccess and fulfillment.

I changed that day. No, I haven’t floated around since in a blissful love-stupor (thankfully, I still enjoy similar, though less powerful, moments). But I relaxed about pursuing my career goals. And you know what? Putting them second to family somehow made them more reachable. Shortly after I “gave up” on my career, it really took off (hmm, maybe you have to give up what you want in order to get it … but that’s another post).

I envy those who find (oops, hard habit to break!) fulfillment in their work, something I’m still striving toward. But I took a big step forward that day, when I first understood that Fulfillment already slept peacefully in my arms, patient for my awakening.

See also: “The Risk of Happiness

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