Everything all the time
I was spending some of Saturday's rainy morning sorting through Amazon Prime, downloading "free" music, when I came across an album title that resonated with me. It is a Band of Horses album. It's title? "Everything all the time." And it got me thinking. We have created a world for ourselves and our progeny where we must fill every available waking moment with something. I imagine a Friday night cheer squad leading a lusty crowd in the everything all the time chant...
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"
"ALL THE TIME!"
Think about it. We get on a plane for a three-hour flight and the thought of 180 minutes stationary, in the company of strangers, zipping across God's vast sky, alone with our own thoughts is just too much. So, airlines accommodate us with in-flight movies, Wi-Fi, snacks, booze... God forbid we have "nothing to do."
We can't drive to work without being tempted by the allure of Facebook updates and texts from friends. Waiting for a table at our favorite restaurant is just too much. So, we grab our phones and blow up Facebook, Twitter, or a friend's phone. We have become the worst possible combination of the bratty Veruca and the gluttonous Gunter in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
"I want it, Daddy. I want it now!"
Not so long ago, I was a middle school teacher...and the father of three girls dashing through childhood. I have observed that the worst thing ever for most kids then and now is to be "bored." I tried to battle this in my kids by telling them, again and again, that "bored" people are boring people. If you have a fertile imagination, you need never be bored. But mine is a withering, weak voice drowned by the ever-accommodating advancements of technology. Convenience. Accessibility. That's the ticket.
What do we want?
And when do we want it?
All the time!
Here is an observable fact regarding the human condition: There is a massive difference between being filled and being fulfilled. To be filled, you must receive. It requires intake. It doesn't matter if you are talking about the tangible, like food, or the intangible, like entertainment. No matter how full you get, you will soon need to be refilled. Again. And again.
Fulfillment is something else entirely. Fulfillment is not gained by receiving, but giving. It is not the result of intake, but output. When Thanksgiving comes in a few weeks, plenty of us will stuff ourselves with turkey. We will be filled. But a few will serve others, maybe at a homeless facility or a hospital. Those few will be fulfilled.
Fulfilled > filled.
[Fulfillment is drenched in sweat and bathed in tears. Fulfillment has calloused hands, a sore back, and blistered feet.]
Fulfilled doesn't need everything all the time. It needs little more than opportunity – the opportunity to invest time, talent, or treasure. That kind of opportunity is pretty much everywhere...all the time. Fulfillment is drenched in sweat and bathed in tears. Fulfillment has calloused hands, a sore back, and blistered feet. Fulfillment has broad shoulders and a big heart.
Fulfillment empties itself and goes to bed full.
Fulfillment is what it means to have everything all the time.