Nugget of St. Arbucks wisdom #76 is from Anne Morriss who describes herself as an organization builder, restless American citizen, optimist.
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating-in work, in play, in love, in faith. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as “rational hesitation”. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.
I just did a quick online life expectancy calculation and Mr. Internet tells me that I'm shooting at dying at the age of 78.15 years. That means I've lived roughly 44% of my life (should I not be impaled by a pitch fork in a religious lynching anytime soon). Of course none of the subsequent 56% are guaranteed days.
I think that we only get to have a couple of "things" in life that will mean anything at all. Our funeral (that will happen one day) will tell a story. There will be prose with some funny stories, off-hand anecdotes and seemingly obscure memories shared. But all these things will point to only a few "things" that our life was ABOUT. Commitment allows those "things" to be robust stories with depth.
I often think of the fabulous SNL Will Farrell "More Cowbell" sketch. Although it's parody in its finest form, Christopher Walken's "explore the space"line has always stuck with me. We're given a couple "things" in our limited time to really care about and make our life "about". The Blue Oyster Cult explored the studio space, rocked some serious cowbell, and came up with Don't Fear the Reaper. We're given the charge to explore the space too. Our own God-given space with the challenge to go deep and make that space mean something. Commitment to a cause brings freedom in the same way that marriage vows of "never leave or forsake" provide the context and safety to growth. It becomes a place to be honest, make mistakes and learn because you know your partner isn't going anywhere.
Mr. Holland's Opus is one of my favorite movies. It's the story of a man who wanted to compose the great American symphony. As he lives his life in a way that is RIGHT (not perfect but RIGHT) ... fate, destiny or maybe God makes it clear that his life is SUPPOSED TO see him committed to his passion as a high school music teacher. It's not what he expected but he plays his role. Tigger-bouncing around to something else would have just been... wrong somehow. And he knew it. He wonders privately what it all means as he becomes a wise, respected, experienced mentor to many.
It was only when he retired that he actually saw his living human opus (a musical composition or a collection of compositions by a particular composer). They all gathered together to play Mr. Holland's music and honor a man whose life MEANT something. There isn't a funeral scene in the movie, but you can be sure that people would know exactly what Mr. Holland's life was about because it was life long story told by a well dug deep.
"I've noticed something. I've never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless. I only thought the movie I walked out of was meaningless. I wonder then, if people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is THEIR lives are meaningless. I wonder if they've chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us"
Your life only gets to say a couple of things.
Are you spending it telling THAT story?