In 25 Words or Less

by Christopher Lovejoy on July 22, 2012

Personal fulfillment: in 25 words or less …

I could start with a list of words that describe it …


… but that would be too easy, too obviously lazy.

A spirited, swiftly moving stream of consciousness?

The fulfillment of my person is realized as and when I satisfy the heart of my soul with a spirit that is wholly engaged with …

Oops, I think I just reached my limit.

A soulful, albeit indulgent stream of consciousness?

I just love it when I can lose myself in the penetrating eyes of a woman whose voice speaks harmony from a place of serenity …

I must confess, this is harder than I thought, but I do have some clues so far.

If my mind is clear, my mood buoyant, my outlook serene, my spirit vital, and if my choice of work and relationships satisfy, then …

Then what?

Am I fulfilled?

Foil: Yes, but what about your conscience?

Me: What about it?

Foil: Do you need one to be fulfilled?

Me: Psychopaths know the difference between right and wrong; they just can’t care enough to see this difference manifest in their daily lives. Do they need a conscience to be fulfilled?

Foil: What do you think?

Me: Let me put it to you this way: do I need a conscience to be fulfilled? If I do, this would place limits on the scope of my pleasures and desires. If I don’t, then … well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Foil: I suppose psychopaths operate from a different standard of personal fulfillment than those who have a conscience, like this one: “I’m fulfilled when I have as many and as much as I can”.

Me: But this restricts your standard to quantity only. A sophisticated psychopath might say this: “I’m fulfilled when I have as many and as much as I can, until I have it as good as I can.”

Foil: While following this principle: “the ends justifies the means”.

Me: Yes. Their modus operandus might read like this: “Do what you have to do, win as many and as much as you can, as good as you can get it, but by all means, don’t get caught.”

Foil: “By all means, don’t get caught lying, cheating, stealing, conning, harming, … killing.”

Me: The usual suspects, yes.

Foil: Are you a psychopath? If not, why not?

Me: I recall tears streaming down my cheeks a few years ago when I watched scenes of human impoverishment in that remarkably beautiful film known as Baraka. I care enough about others not to consciously use or abuse them.

Foil: In this day and age, are you not concerned about becoming a sociopath?

Me: Am I concerned about becoming a secondary psychopath, owing to pernicious cultural influences that are prevalent in the world today? To be honest, yes. Yes, I am concerned.

Foil: We’re not just talking about compassion fatigue here.

Me: Indeed we’re not, but I nevertheless think that compassion fatigue is among the first indications that you’re beginning to lose your conscience to an increasingly security-obsessed world.

Foil: … to an increasingly security-obsessed world under siege by dark psychopathic forces operating on (or at) the highest levels of finance, government, business, commerce, intelligence, and media.

Me: Let’s not go there just now.

Foil: Agreed. Let us explore personal fulfillment within the limits defined by a conscience.

Me: Any ideas?

Foil: You tell me. I wouldn’t know where to start!

Me: The subject matter isn’t so much complex as it is nebulous. I mean, we’re talking about ephemeral pleasures and desires satisfied and fulfilled in a social, presumably moral, context.

Foil: … and the ethical means employed to satisfy and fulfill them.

Me: Let us start here: ideally, pleasures are satisfied and desires are fulfilled, preferably by ethical means and with ethical ends.

Foil: Elaborate on what you mean by ethical means …

Me: Any action taken or method employed that does not bring hurt or harm or death to another being for reasons other than self-defense.

Foil: That’s the negative side of the equation. What about the positive?

Me: This is where public opinion diverges. Some say you’re obligated, due to the fact that you have a social, moral conscience, that you help others whenever and wherever you can. Others say that your fidelity to the negative side of the equation is more than enough to protect your conscience.

Foil: How do you see it?

Me: In my view, the positive side of the ethical equation is not an obligation, but then, neither is it a mere preference. A lot of good can come to those who make a positive, meaningful contribution to the lives of others. For one thing, it keeps the conscience alive, which in itself has protective value.

Foil: So how would you describe personal fulfillment in 25 words or less?

Me: Ultimately, quite simply, and most essentially, personal fulfillment is the conscious, conscientious realization of every conceivable pleasure through every attainable, desirable, satisfying outcome imaginable.

Foil: Conceivable to those with a conscience, imaginable to those with a conscience.

Me: Let us not forget that the gray zones make life interesting, but essentially, yes.

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