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A Moment of Fulfillment

Dec 24, 2008

by Tim

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— Overcoming subordination to the almighty career—

christmas_tree.gifFor 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 seize me by the shoulders 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 work to create, not “find” it). But eleven 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.

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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 like this! 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 occasionally 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—make that create) 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.

Merry Christmas!

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You may also enjoy:

Fulfillment: A Work in Progress

The Risk of Happiness

Thanksgiving Song

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