Living Life to the Fullest

The exhortation “live life to the fullest” seems to pop up all the time. I scratch my head and wonder what that means, really. It’s a little like my lack of interest in bucket lists (previous post) because a lot of times people seem to mean adding up lists of things they’ve done and places they’ve been and days that are crammed with perpetual motion. My life has been so circumscribed by the chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia issues that if the criterion for living fully has to do with how full you’ve kept your calendar, how many times you’ve bungee jumped or how many pins you can put on a map to show where you’ve been, then my life for the last couple of decades hasn’t been lived much.

Yet I’ve been here, breathing and showing other occasional signs of life and in spite of pain and exhaustion I’ve actually liked my life and appreciated it more than ever before. So I’ve been asking myself, “what IS a full life?” And I realize my answer is just very different from the lists and accomplishments that mean “full” to a lot of people. It’s very different from anything I contemplated when I was 25 and packing my days and looking forward to more of the same.

To find my way out of the illness I had to look inward where—besides learning a lot about myself and my past—I came to understand that I have a divine nature of which I was previously unaware. The journey to understanding and releasing the past and then to connection with my higher self has been absorbing and amazing. I’ve learned to feel fullness and lightness just sitting in silence and letting myself sense the presence of spirit.

I’ve become a bit of a gardener (grumbling and not very good at it – really more a bit than a gardener). I’ve planted perennial herbs here and there in the yard. When I’m out weeding (grrr…) I stop here and there to rub my fingers on lavender or sage or mint and take a moment to savor the heady scent. I’ve become more of a cook (not so grumbly and pretty good) and I’ve learned to take the time to create tastes and smells to savor. I take the time to pay attention to as many of the small miracles of every day life as I can remember to notice (mindfulness again is key).

Since the months leading up to the war in Iraq I’ve been increasingly bent on releasing any remaining anger, raising my energy vibration and filling with love and compassion. I’d say at the rate I’m going I can “fill” the rest of my life with becoming peaceful within so that I can radiate lovingkindness out.

This post is for ABC Wednesday and this week it is “L”.

18 thoughts on “Living Life to the Fullest

  1. I so agree with you on this. I too have CFS/Fibro and have lived what I term a ‘small life’ for 18 years now, compared to my previous healthy life. However, I too have come to realise the inner life is so important, and maybe I would have missed that had I been well and too busy to listen to my inner voice.

    Maybe, in a strange way, this ‘illness’ has actually been a blessing for us! Not one we would have consciously chosen, but one which has added an abundance of new and often magical experiences.

  2. I suspect that many of us have a spiritual side that we are too BUSY to hear.
    I spent a bunch of time in the 6 months before the Iraq war opposing it. It helped that I was doing it with a lot of Quakers, who pretty much ignored the fingers we got..
    I’d say you’ve been having a full life.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

    • I’m always interested in how Quakers and Buddhists juggle “opposition” with love and compassion — I haven’t quite figured that one out for myself but I keep seeing that others have and that’s encouraging. Thanks for the “full life” thought.

  3. I so agree with you all, the inner life is so important, its such a shame that the majority of people don’t realise it. Namaste my friend.

    • I like to think the more we look inward and create a different possibility the more we open a space for more people to find their way. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Your thoughts today say so much of what I have found to be true. And I would like to add that gardening has been a large part of the path to more fullness and insight as you mentioned today. If you want to look at the garden that has brought me to a deeper life, check out my private garden on Lake Michigan; It indeed has brought more than new life to the Earth, it has brought new life to me. Jack

    • Oh your garden is spectacular. I always lived near the lake when I lived in Chicago and spent a lot of time sitting lakeside but I never got to sit in a garden like that!

  5. In the last few years, I consciously slowed my life down and at many times wondered if something was wrong with me mostly because our culture and society is so outwardly focused. I have been gardening with herbs and flowers for several years, and that has been an important spiritual practice for me. It’s funny that I’ve also learned to cook better in the last few years.
    There’s something to your idea of full life that would make a good “manifesto” of sorts. Too many of the current ideas of full life seems to be running away from the inner life, and are actually harming our planet. Your idea of filling your life with peace and radiating lovingkindness inspired me today. Thank you.

    • Yes, holding that kind of space if you don’t live in an ashram or other religious community takes a lot of strength.
      I like the idea of a manifesto for a different kind of full life… Might be a book here…
      Glad you were inspired — thank you for reading and commenting and writing such lovely posts for me to read.

    • Lucky you that you love the gardening — a little goes a long way for me. I always say I love gardens but I prefer the ones someone else created…and weeds!

  6. I think living life to its fullest is different for everyone. Your life sounds full to me. I know when I started having major health issues I laughed about the expression stopping to smell the flowers because I’ve always stopped to smell the flowers and watch the insects and birds etc. so that was nothing new for me. I definitely have no interest in a bucket list. I think of myself as peaceful but certainly get angry about so many things. Anyway, great post! Carver, ABCW Team

  7. Beautiful and very inspiring post. I am always making lists… but never a bucket list nor I list the places where I have been. Have a wonderful day!

  8. A full life is completely subjective. To hear the joy you are taking in the things that so many of us (myself included) take for granted, well, THAT sounds like a pretty full life to me. You’re finding value in YOUR way. That’s all you can do. You sound like an incredibly strong person and I truly wish you all the best.

Please add your thoughts; love a good discussion!

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