To the Full

Have you ever noticed how the universe has a way of getting our attention when it’s time for us to learn a life lesson? How it seems like every other conversation we have, or book we read, or music we hear, or sermon we attend, or movie we watch, there is a recurring theme or word or message seemingly designed solely for us; if only we have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a will to put into action.

My most recent message from the universe has provoked a question, an intrigue, an examining: What does living life ‘To the Full’ look like? on the outside? on the inside? How can I know if I’m living my life to the full?

But then I wonder, is it even possible, to live life each and every day, with such focus, verve, and single-minded application? Conceptually I embrace this maxim one hundred percent! To the full ~ full steam ahead! But in practice it almost seems wearisome and in-humane, like putting one more item on my already over-done to-do list.

You are going to have to give and give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

As I’ve given some thought to this probing question, I’ve had time to consider how others live their lives to the full. And I’ve noticed something about those folks who seem to have overflowing, abundant, successful lives. Whether writers, runners, artists, mothers, fathers, teachers or business professionals: every ‘full’ life requires the giving of oneself…to one’s craft…to one’s multiple roles and responsibilities. Their purposeful repetition is required, EVERY – SINGLE – DAY. A full life cannot wait for fleeting inspirations or soaring energy levels. A full life needs each one of us to show up, with sleeves rolled in expectant anticipation.

Will I journey through my days as a sleep walker? a jaywalker? a bull-dozer? a butterfly?

When I came across the attached photo of the dog seemingly flying through the air, it was then that I realized the ultimate answer to my question: What does it feel like to live to the full? Life lived to the full feels like FREEDOM. Life lived to the full feels like JOY. Life lived to the full feels like OPPORTUNITY.

So, how can I know that I am living to the full, as “someone whose gate has been left open”? First of all, I think a life lived to the full is one in which I engage in meaningful, enjoyable activities, (running, writing, traveling, reading, having fun with family and friends); but I also know that a life lived to the full is spent in giving ourselves away for the sake of others. Because I am someone’s wife, mother, daughter, sister, employer, coach, friend, etc., I am the only one who can ‘show up’ and give my time and attention to those with whom I have relationship.

Living an abundant life means I can live and spend the moments of my life in lavish, giving, extravagance, as though I cannot outspend myself! This is what life is for, it is for the living of it…to the FULL.

And so we must ask ourselves: Are we feeling with our minds? Thinking with our hearts? Making every empathic leap we can? Are we witnesses to the world around us? Are we climbing on the shoulders of those who paved the way for us? Are we using every last bit of ourselves, living these lives of ours, spending it, spending it all, every single day?
Dani Shapiro, Still Writing


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