To Be or Not to Be: Committed
Throughout most of my son, Judd’s, youth, he has been skiing with the Aspen Valley Ski School, where he learned how to freestyle ski, performing tricks in the air like an acrobat. I’ve witnessed some jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching flips and spins as Judd jumped off large cliffs on his skis. I am grateful every time he lands safely, his body intact.
In the summer months, Judd and his friends enjoy doing the same acrobatic moves from the edge of a mountain into a deep body of water. Recently, he was hanging with one of his lacrosse buddies at a lake, and the boys were flipping off a high peak. That evening, Judd showed me video clips of himself and his friend taking turns leaping into the air in a front somersault and landing (thankfully, injury-free) into the water. Cringing, I watched his friend open his body midway through the flip, flailing as he splashed into the water. With all that adrenaline running through him, it probably looked worse than he felt.
Judd explained to me how he tried to teach his friend the proper front flip technique, emphasizing that to do it correctly, his friend had to stay committed, which, from what I observed, he didn’t do. The word committed struck a chord with me. When I questioned Judd about it, he said that was how his ski instructors had taught him to do many of the tricks he had learned over the years. To get a perfect acrobatic landing, one must stay committed.
For the next week or so, I couldn’t stop thinking about how powerful the word commitment is. Commitment is derived from the Latin word committere, meaning “to unite, connect, combine; to bring together.” Com means “with, together” and mittere means “to release, let go, send, throw.” (https://www.etymonline.com/word/commit)
The above definition makes sense as far as teaching someone how to perform a gymnastic move, but the word has so much more meaning when it comes to mastering life goals.
For example, I’ve been struggling the past few months, trying to finish revisions on the first draft of my latest manuscript. My procrastination skills are adept, and I’ve managed to come up with daily excuses, busying myself with minutia, doing pretty much anything but sitting down and completing my work. I now realize what my problem is: I’m not committed.
My weekly, and sometimes biweekly, round-trip drives from Aspen to Denver for my son’s lacrosse practices has put a lot of stress on my lower back. For over a year, I’ve been telling myself that if I spent a minimum of ten minutes a day doing core strengthening exercises, it would help alleviate the pain, possibly even diminish it entirely. Somehow, complaining about the drives seems to be a lot easier than putting forth the effort to fix the problem. Why? Because I’m not committed to helping myself get stronger.
A while ago, Judd decided he wanted to eliminate refined sugar from his diet and eat healthier. Like him, I too have a sweet tooth, and when he suggested that we do it together, I agreed. Three days later, I was caught red-handed in the pantry with an Oreo cookie in my mouth. Judd, of course, confronted me for cheating, mocking me for my inability to stick to our new plan. Once again, my issue had to do with commitment.
Coincidentally, a few days ago, I was listening to a podcast. The guy getting interviewed was talking about how he transformed his dead-end life into a successful one. He credited the significant change he made to the poignant question a wise man once asked him: was he interested in making his dreams come true, or was he committed to making his dreams come true?
I just answered the question.
I am finally committed to finalizing the edits on my manuscript. As for my other goals, the next time I savor the sweet taste of a rich, chocolate brownie, I will maintain full commitment to finishing it. Meanwhile, I’ll be sure to tell Judd that eliminating sugar from my diet sounds like a great idea, something that I’d like to remain interested in—for now.