It’s fun to read stories and novels. They can draw us in, and we can escape the emptiness and meaninglessness of our everyday life. We can be part of Frodo’s quest to destroy the ring, or part of Raskolnikov’s redemption. We can be heroes, saviors, or the saved. We can live in adventure or bliss. We can be virtuous, noble, and heroic. We can feel fulfilled, full of meaning and purpose.
If only we could really enter in. If only our lives were stories.
What if we could write our own lives like a story? Could we write meaning and fulfillment into them? Could we fill them with adventure and virtue?
When we read stories, don’t we feel the fullness because we enter into the story–empathize with the characters and view the world from their perspective? Don’t we experience their world?
But what if that story world was our world? Then we wouldn’t even need empathy or imagination to experience it. We would be in it, experiencing it directly.
But why can’t we do this? Why can’t we determine what we will do next? Why can’t we design the plot of our lives?
Can’t we? I don’t see why not.
Each day, a new chapter.
One page can change everything.
A new scene opens,
and I decide
will take, because
I decide what I
We determine how we will respond to our circumstances. We choose our actions. We write our story. And we experience it. We can live a fulfilling and meaningful life, if only we will write meaningful and fulfilling things into it, and then allow ourselves to experience it.
We can read a book intellectually, without empathy, and analyze it from the outside. We can do the same thing with our life: analyze it from outside, watch from a distance, like Farley Mowat in Never Cry Wolf:
I wonder why it was that long ago I became a watcher of things. Always watching others do and feel things I wouldn’t or couldn’t do myself. Always standing off at a distance, isolated, detached. I envy the wolves for how they experience the world. Always in such direct contact with their environment, traveling through their territories, alert and attuned to all the signs coming in through their senses, telling them where a rabbit recently passed or the sweet water lay, revealing a whole universe to them that we can never really know. But I sit behind glass lenses, filling up notebooks and triplicate forms…
But we don’t have to be watchers, viewing our lives from afar like scientists. We can allow ourselves to experience them.
I think meaning and fulfillment are feelings, not facts. They must be experienced. They cannot be analyzed. As soon as we remove ourselves from the subjective, existential perspective and attempt to view our lives from the outside, objectively, we lose the feeling (unless the experience of the analysis itself makes us feel fulfilled).
So, I think, there are at least two reasons why I move in and out of feelings of fulfillment and emptiness: action and perspective. If I am to be fulfilled, first I must perform the actions that bring fulfillment, then I must allow myself to experience it.
In order to experience the feeling of fulfillment and meaning , we must be within the circumstance or state of mind that brings them. Fulfillment occurs in the intuitive dimension, not in the logical dimension. This intuitive dimension is real, just as real as pain or pleasure, which means that love and meaning are also real. They have a reality on another plane, one that may be analyzed, but not experienced, through chemical analysis.We can experience meaning and fulfillment, but we cannot ask questions. It is as if we must abandon ourselves to it, just as we do to erotic passion. We must immerse ourselves. Then we can be more than just watchers of things. We can be part of it.