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?

Poag Sand Prairie. Photo used with permission from Heartlands Conservancy.

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