On a recent drive into St. Louis, the Amazon warehouses with the gaping tornado hole in the
center caught my eye. The term “Fulfillment Center” came to mind; I’ve always felt this term to
be off-balance, so I decided to explore it.
“Fulfill” and its derivatives such as fulfilled, and fulfillment are words with a broad range of
meanings. The 1997 edition of the Oxford Desk Dictionary covers everything from realizing a
dream or goal to the satisfaction of a promise or prophecy, and many other meanings related to
our inner selves. Granted, these definitions were published before the dawn of the 21st century.
Still, I was surprised that today a Web search turns up many more meanings that refer to business
processes, such as fulfillment of an order, “fulfillment center,” and “satisfying” a customer, all
relating to material goods.
Drilling down, I tried to understand what actually fulfills me and quickly realized that those
things that make my life satisfying are not tangible goods I can touch or hold, rather they are
experiences that carry emotional or spiritual meaning. While growing up it was vacations at my
maternal grandparents’ home. My grandparents were a huge influence in my life, as were the
aunts, uncles, and cousins often visiting at the same time. Now that I’m the grandparent,
fulfillment is having my children and grandchildren around the table sharing a meal with love
and laughter. During the isolation of the pandemic, it was late afternoon walks in the woods with
the sun at that angle that makes leaves sparkle and shadows dance on the trail.
Recently an experience that was absolutely fulfilling was exploring Poag Sand Prairie in
Edwardsville, just a few miles from my home. It was Fall when I first walked its 10 acres; the
plants were brown with lovely seedheads dropping their seeds as they swayed in the breezes.
They were promising new growth for the coming Spring, a promise I knew would be fulfilled.
The irony of all of this is that this gem of a natural spot is just outside a fence encasing a large
group of ugly “fulfillment centers.” Yes, they are right there in all their commercial glory, but as
I walked through the life and beauty in the prairie, those buildings virtually disappeared. I can’t
wait to see what Spring brings to Poag Sand Prairie and, at the same time, I wonder - What do
you find fulfilling?