Friday, 13 May 2016

The Full Life Deception

Spend any time on social media and you will encounter a meme much like the one above. It encourages you to live a "full life" or something akin to that. It is designed to motivate you in finding what you love, embracing new experiences and being all that you can be. It is almost always married with a picture of natural beauty or awe inspiring environments. In the snappy quote and the powerful imagery, the deception that is taking place is brilliantly disguised. A lie that we have been sold so skilfully and we've bought at the cost of delusion and disappointment.

The lie is that life can be made full by a series of defined experiences, decreed by someone or something unidentified to this day. They tend to veer around locations to visit, passions to be pursued and vocations to be fulfilled. While all those things are worthwhile, it is an ugly and arrogant suggestion to say that anyone's life is not what it should be. Life should not be about bucket lists, ticking them off like they are achievements on a games console.

This is the deception we are being sold. It is the idea that what happens in someone's life somehow doesn't contribute to it, unless it is an Instagram friendly moment. Not everyone will travel to exotic locations. Being a glorified tourist does not mean you have a fuller life than the person who enjoys the close company of his family and friends. 

Not everyone will do an enviable job or even a profession that they enjoy. Being in a notable or noble vocation does not mean you have a fuller life than the person who knuckles down doing something crappy to pay the bills, putting a roof over their children's head, food in their stomachs and clothes on their backs.

Not everyone is naturally talented. Some have to rely on hard work to get to the point where they are able to survive comfortably. Their lives are not diminished by the lack of mental acuity they have. A full life is not the preserve of the bright, the brilliant, the rich, the risk takers and the reckless. It is had by all.

Life is a journey of experiences and every single one has value. Even the horrid ones. Because the full life idea is a lie; one I am completely sick of. It is not a full life that we should crave. It is a good life.

What defines a good life? It is not the miles we cover; it is not the certificates or accolades we collect. It is not the wealth we accumulate or the people we associate with. Ultimately, it will be the character we create in the cauldron of choices we call life that will determine whether our life was good. If it was good, our hearts will be full. Our lives will have felt rich. Vast monuments built by men and nature will pale in comparison to the joy felt in the warm glow of a friendly smile of a loved one.

Do not let the world tell you that you are not living a full life. You may suffer trials but the biggest shadows require the most wondrous mountains to cast them. They are not demons. They are not torture. They are your experiences. Own them. They will make you who you are and there is nothing in this world more special than that. You are the author of your life, the storyteller completing their first draft. Discover it. Embrace it. Live it.

And don't let anyone tell you that what you live is anything less than a full life. Just make it a good one.

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