Saturday, October 4, 2008

Regarding the nature of committment, Pt. 1

As Som notes, October is the month of Earth: a time to reflect upon patience, inner strength, and commitment. Largely as a result of my martial arts training, I have found myself reflecting more and more upon the nature of commitment. I'd like to share some of these thoughts.

I believe the nature of commitment depends upon the time-frame you're talking about. Commitment in the short term, though related to commitment in the long term, is not quite the same thing. In order to differentiate the two, I shall call them "Commitment" and "COMMITMENT."

A Commitment may be something short term. You and your friend agree on Wednesday that you'll go to see a movie together on Friday. Thursday, another friend calls to ask if you'd like to go bowling that night. You tell him, "I'm sorry, I can't, I have a prior commitment." This type of commitment is active in its operation. You say that you're going to do something on Friday night; either you follow through, or you don't.

A COMMITMENT is more long-term, and is made up of Commitments. A person might, for example, decide that she wants to be healthier. To that end, she might decide to ride a bicycle everywhere. She might cut certain foods out of her diet. She might pay closer attention to the things that she eats, and the way they make her feel. Each of these things is a Commitment. You ride your bike to work, you've fulfilled your Commitment for that day. You opt for a salad instead of a cheese steak, you've fulfilled another Commitment. These smaller Commitments, over time, contribute to a larger COMMITMENT: to better manage one's health. As time wears on, and more of these smaller Commitments build up, the larger COMMITMENT becomes reaffirmed.

Problems often arise, however, when we talk about "commitment" in the context of a personal relationships (as we so often do). "We've been dating for [insert period of time], but I just can't get him to make a commitment" is a complaint we've all at some point heard (or perhaps made). Problems may also arise where one wants to get out of a commitment: "She promised we'd be together forever, but then she left me!"

I believe that these problems arise from a failure to realize the dual nature of commitment; that is to say, when we confuse Commitment with COMMITMENT. More to come.

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