Free-writing for Dec 5.
SO EARLY. ON A MONDAY. But I said I would do it, so I am doing it.
Commitment. Taking the leap. Making the choice. Pick one and stick with it. Easier to consider and imagine committing than to actually do it. It’s easier to talk big about what-I-would-do-if than than to actually walk the walk when the moment comes, for many people.
All bark and no bite, as they say.
Me? Let it be known I am a control freak. I don’t like to make snap decisions, but I will. I do like to commit to things and make them happen. It’s a rush.
I remember being unable to commit to anything when I was a child. I was probably a horror. Every choice–Lifesavers or Sweet Tarts, sweet roll or doughnut, blue shirt or green — was an agony. I would waffle until the window of opportunity passed or I drove everyone around me mad with impatience, but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t explain it then, but I understand looking back that I couldn’t bear to commit because choosing meant losing. I loved all the options too much to reject any of them. Besides, what if I was wrong? Oh, the fear of consequences…
There were more fights and squabbles about my inability to commit without “help” than I care to admit. Years of them.
The summer between freshman and sophomore year in college changed everything. The confluence of summer camp responsibilities, shifting relationships, victories large and small, and lots of experiencing the lives of fictional characters made my world shift. The key element was perspective — for the first time ever, I had enough space and distance and time elapsed living to see what commitment really was: being responsible for being me.
Even when I chose not to choose, I was still making a choice. Yes, yes, it’s a song lyric. Lyrics can speak truths, thank you very much, Rush.
So I committed to commitment that summer after long walks alone in the woods contemplating existence and questioning if it mattered whether I made a conscious effort to commit myself to my choices. (yes, in case you wondered. All the difference ever.)
Choice is unavoidable, but knowledge is not power. Commitment to choice is power. Once I know the choice exists, I can’t pretend I don’t know it. I have a responsibility to act on knowledge, do what I believe, go where I see purpose. If I could let myself be controlled by others, by refusing to release any options until forced by chance or outside pressure, I would be rejecting my own humanity.
I can’t say the insight made committing easier. The lurch of terror as I careen onto a single path from an intersection of infinite possibilities remains breathtaking. The guilt when I must choose — knowingly — to renege on a planned action (which itself a commitment, but I digress into philosophy…never mind) leaves its wounds.
I would say commitment never gets easy, but it did get to be a habit. Then it got comfortable.
And now it’s unthinkable to consider living any other way. I don’t commit to anything lightly–that’s where that knowledge flexes its power, but once I do choose my course, it isn’t hard to stay on the path because doing so is a trick I have practiced long and hard.
I guess getting old does have a few fringe benefits.
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