Fulfillment is often a mystery

Some, in reaction to the realization that every moment is literally life and death, feel stress.

The impulse of “I’m supposed to be spending this moment on something important” can drown out actual life.

Don’t do this.

Live.  Lay on your back and look at the clouds.  Yes, labor and strive.  Yes fight for what matters.

Life, if forced, feels so.  You can struggle, but in general: seek harmony.

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The Curve

How do we think of time?

It is personal to our life.  The time of this life is all we have.  The world will continue once your time is over, but that is no longer you.  You will be gone.

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In the chart above we graph your existence asLife over time, L over t, or L/t.  

Time, t, takes the horizontal axis.  Your life moves forward from birth to death here.

You live each day with as much fulfillment as you are able to achieve.  This is represented by the vertical axis of “L” in the chart above.

If we are charting “fulfillment” why do I call the axis “L” for life? Why not call it “F” for fulfillment?  I have the opinion that the purpose of life is to be fulfilled.  That feeling fulfilled is the best feeling.  Why not happiness or some other feeling, or why not some other measure?  Indeed, why?  I will explore this in future articles.  For now I will merely say that success, helping others, happiness or any other common measures do not seem to me to be as powerful as fulfillment.  Such that these are good measures, they merely measure fulfillment to some degree, but incompletely.

So, I present fulfillment as the purpose in life.

Fulfillment is not infinite.  You will be no more alive than the imaginary moment in which you are giving birth as you jump out of a plane skydiving, having just heard you won a prize recognizing you as the best human of the century for your work in rescuing the entire planet.  Certainly no more fulfilled than that.  So the L axis has a ceiling in this chart describing the maximum you can be fulfilled at any moment.

Hopefully you have a long time left to live.  Hopefully that life will be spent high on the L access – you will live in a way that give you fulfillment day to day.  If we were to graph your life, its experience would be represented by the area under the curve, L over t.  Your opportunity now is figuring out how to sustain L’>0, or for the enlightened, L”>0.  You can live.  To the degree you sustain a lower L over time, you are dying – having missed area under that curve.  Length of life is a factor, but total area is the truth.  

You are living through moments that never come again.  These moments are written durably as if into the blockchain of the universe.  Even now you are spending time here, it may not be your greatest opportunity.  But you have spent it, and that choice is permanent.

Maybe stop now if only for a minute, and go hold someone you love once more.  Or begin that effort you have been thinking about.  Or clean your house to make room for greater joy or clarity.  Or anything you want permanently written into your life.

Upon the moral weight of the permanence of your choices about time, we find the purpose of life.  Your morality is determined by your choice to not waste this gift of time, to fulfill your life. Your sin is to deny that. 

To steal away the opportunity for others to use their time to fulfill their lives is certainly sin.  To ensure fulfillment for others is clearly noble.  

But what I want you to know the most, is that because of all this, the time you spent reading this here with me was sacred.  You gave those moments you spent to us.  We now share those moments together.  I wrote, you read.  This is done, forever.  It is therefore a sacrament you bestowed upon me.

Thank you for your time.

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The Journey

We incomprehensibly more alive and fulfilled and kind and good than we are today.

We may never experience the sense of “arrival”.  Yesterday’s version of “me” could not conceive of all of what today’s version experiences, senses, intuits, believes, comprehends, invents, accomplishes.  A five year old doesn’t know what it’s like to get married, to support a family, to win or lose at adult scale.

I have become something unknowably grand in relation to yesterday’s version of me. “Tomorrow Me” may achieve this again in relation to “Today Me”.  As I take each step, it brings me closer in view to the my goal.  I can see beyond that goal, and a new goal comes into view, replacing the previous one.  I build into my expectations what was previously distant aspiration.  This can happen continuously without me noticing.  I can take my progress for granted.

Lacking the gratification of arrival, I satisfy myself with each directionally-correct step.  Each incremental step provides me with instant gratification.  I get deeper satisfaction from a change in speed or in receiving a bit of wisdom about what direction I should go, or how to move better, with greater efficiency or enjoyment.  In any case, I attempt to experience viscerally the small improvement in each moment.  I hunger for the subtle feeling of the improvement to the rate of improvement.  In math the rate of change to the rate of change is called the “derivative”.  We can feel the derivate in our lives if we pay attention to it.

Conversely, this functions also in the other direction.  I can slide down continuously and be less of a person each moment or each day without noticing.  This is a great danger that consumes many people.

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I respect your faith

This is about calling this “The Church of Time”, specifically the use of the word “church”.

I mean no disrespect to any traditional churches.  Perhaps you belong to a church, or are faithful to a religion, and feel that it is not good to refer to my thinking as a “church”.  I’m sorry for any offense; this is the best I seem to be able to do to express my faith, which is humanistic in nature.

We may disagree about cosmology, but I respect you and your beliefs

I believe that it’s highly likely that your church is a noble group seeking salvation and attempting to do good in this world.  I love people of faith for their humility.  By definition if we are beloved creations of God, then we are small and should do our best to be good.

Your faith is entirely compatible with my views that on this earth, time matters most.

In this article, I want to explain this, and show how holding time high even at the level of worship is not disrespectful to any faith.

It’s self evident to me that time moves on, and I can’t stop it.  I can fill it with good moments, or I can waste it.  I will die, and when I do, time as we know it will stop for me.  This life and it’s manner of existence will end. We are all aware of life and death, and even those who have come to peace with death understand why others cling to life.

Many religions deal with the scarcity of time explicitly.  In the Christian religion, for example, Adam apparently throws away eternal life, choosing to eat from the tree of knowledge.

Whatever the origins of time’s scarcity, it’s scarce now.  This is the apparent intention of any God.

I don’t believe in these things.  However if you do, then the passage of time remains one of the most significant facts that the God of your faith has presented to you to consider.  If they have given you this time, then the ultimate expression of your faith is to use it well.

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