You’ll see it in dating profiles and works of self-help.
Well, I suppose dating profiles are works of self-help.
You’ll see it in hagiographic profiles of those who have overcome adversity or merely succeeded beyond normal people’s wildest dreams.
You’ll even see it in some modern religions, desperate to be relevant, as well as to take money from your spirit.
At heart, it’s a warning and a prescription: Live Life To The Fullest.
Implied is, of course, that your life is empty.
Implied, too, is the notion that unless you have copious images of Machu Picchu, deep-sea diving, wailing with the whales and cycling on the top of skyscrapers, you aren’t living life at all, never mind to the fullest.
Social media enhances that impression.
You’re supposed to post a lot and often. You’re supposed to prove not only to your friends, but to potential employers, lovers and admirers that your life is so blissfully full that it simply has no room for more employers, lovers and admirers.
You’re just tempting them, of course. You’re just teasing them into your Web of fullness which isn’t quite as full as you imply.
In any case, isn’t there a certain intelligence in ensuring that your life isn’t full?
That way, you leave room for a new entrant, a new experience, a new direction.
If you’re constantly filling your life like those men who used to chuck coal into train furnaces, you hardly have time to contemplate what you’re doing and whether it’s even making you happy.
You’re far too busy being a constant advertisement for living life to the fullest.
The Full Life Party has you under its spell so much that you’re compelled to be a spokesperson for it every day.
It also tells you what ingredients can constitute life-filling carbohydrate.
Going to the symphony, good. Sitting at home, cuddling with your lover, listening to Beethoven, not quite so good.
Riding your bicycle (very slowly) up a very steep hill till you vomit when you reach the top, good.
Riding your bicycle (very slowly) to the local deli to pick up your favorite potato chips, not quite so good.
It all makes me think of Americans when they go to Europe. Europe is a place less to be experienced than to be “done.”
“We did Europe in a week,” an American might say. As if Europe prostrated herself and waited for them to have their way with her.
For the tourist, there’s a checklist of things to be seen, photographed, commented upon and then posted to Facebook.
When this is done, Europe is done.
For “Europe,” read “life.”
You need to justify yourself by the number of things you’ve done, not by the intensity of how they were felt.
You need to be ready with an “Oh, yes. We did that.” Otherwise, you’ll feel like you missed out. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re not much of a person at all.
But some people feel they live life to the fullest when they have time to breathe, days to just sit and contemplate, years when all they have “achieved” is a deepening of relationships and a steadying against the storms of time and money.
Perhaps one of the best ways to live life to the fullest is to wake up with a head that’s empty of everything but warm feelings for the ones you love and access to their presence.
It doesn’t make for a great Facebook collage.
But it might make for real, rather than virtual, fulfillment.