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What makes a full life?

What makes a full life?

Earlier in the week I was asked to justify myself after saying that any life lived was a full life. I was specifically asked to explain how a starving child in a poor country who dies of hunger could be described as having had a full life.

I absolutely understand the question…and the reason for it.

I could answer that – if I had details.  But this was a hypothetical question. I can’t answer a hypothetical question – I have no info about who the mother and father and the rest of the family were.  I have no information about who held and loved that baby before it died.  I can’t answer without knowing real details of real situations.  I’ve worked with many people whose losses looked senseless and pointless and wasteful….until you look at the complete picture. Indeed my own story (if you haven’t seen my about page I lost 6 family members in 4 months, including my dad) might seem like something beyond explanation, when you are presented with little more than those basic facts.

I can’t answer a question about a situation I have no info about….but I can say this.  We are very quick to claim a short life is a waste and a pity and a shame and declare outrage at what has happened….but we don’t stop to realise that by doing so….or to describe any life as not having been full….is to take meaning away from a life. A precious human life. A life that is complete – in that it began and ended and will never be longer than it was, no matter what we say or do.  By doing so we strip meaning and value from any life that has been cut shorter that we believe a life should be, or ended in a way that we think shouldn’t have happened. That’s a lot of meaning from a lot of lives.

What makes a full life?  Well, what makes a full day?  Quite simply, I think a full day is any day that you have loved and have been loved.  So a full life is one where you have loved and been loved every day.  So a short life can be just as full as a long one if every day of it was spent this way.   And keep in mind that not one of us, not a single one of us, was guaranteed a moment of the time we have had since conception.  We are here right now.  Tomorrow? The day after?  Who knows. Every moment we have is a gift.  And whatever time that made up a life was complete – be it 1 day or 100 years.

I posted the thought below on twitter a few days ago…and it got a lot of comments and retweets.  It’s the kind of thing people ‘like’ the idea of without necessarily thinking through the full implications.  Keep in mind what I’ve written above as you read it:

 Every single life has tremendous value and meaning, just as it is – none more or less so than any other – no matter what the length.      

As always, feel free to comment  below!









Talisa August 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

Wow what a fantastic blog! Love your always refreshing perspectives that shine a light on what is so easy to miss. If that was the one you got up at 3am to write it was well worth it!!

MillieKer August 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

Great Blog Kristie! A difficult subject brilliantly handled. You are so right – we judge everything all the time and usually not necessarily with the correct information. All life is of value not matter how long or how short, or what occurred during that life. It all comes back to the meaning of life – what is the meaning of life? Age old question. My view is the meaning of life is to experience, to experience fully. Which means we have to experience it all, in one life or another. So as you say we cannot know what experience each soul is having. And having experienced then to know that it is all Love – good and bad, right and wrong.

Kristie West August 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Thanks Millie. I am 100% with you what life is all about…and how we go about doing that i.e. life to death to life to death to life….. xxx

Kristie West August 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Thanks Talisa! This one and the last one were written together from 3-4am the other night. Though I wasn’t too happy about it at the time…..they were stoked to have gotten their way. Little monsters. 😉

Alex Mero September 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm

My answer will probably call up other questions, but I can only applaud that. Each individual comes to the world in a certain context, a certain time and culture, where it gets meaning. Despite the context in which a person comes into the world and lives his life, he is not completely left to the circumstances. He can become aware of his situation and experience a lack of meaning when life confronts him in this respect. Due to this the person can start cherishing the desire to change things in his life. The ideas and dreams that appear to us during such moments and the values that we want to follow give meaning to our life. From these events we obtain new insight in our situation. In other words: our situation gets a new meaning in light of such events.

Kristie West September 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Hi Alex, thanks for the comment. I particularly love your last sentence – this is so true about so many elements of our lives, including around death and grief.