I am in Israel right now, celebrating the Jewish holiday “Sukkot”. According to Wikipedia, the Hebrew word sukkōt is a walled structure covered with palm leaves. The sukkot are intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
As I sit in the “Sukkah”, and think about the poor Jewish people who had to walk in the desert for 40 years just to be free, I remembered my first memory from sitting inside a Sukkah from 25 years ago… The time when I used to believe that being free and having a life free of commitments would be the ultimate goal. That was the time when Internet did not exist and television had only one or two channels in the Upper Galilee in Israel. So there I was, spending my quality time in the Sukkah I built with my father and brother, reading one of my favorite childhood books: “Huckleberry Finn” – the timeless tale of a young Ne’er-do-well who by virtue of his free spirit and underneath it all, his good heart, sets sail down the mighty Mississippi River on an extraordinary adventure and along the way encounters a host of interesting characters.
In truth, and in the broader sense, that description aside from the Ne’er-do-well and Mississippi River business would be an excellent way to summarize my own life.
I was and continue to be a creative and artistic soul, one who operates outside of many of the societal norms. I am a freelancer, self-employed, and by all accounts – an artist. I can’t imagine working a 9 to 5…. or donning a suit everyday …or not being able to take off on an adventure, just like my childhood hero Huckleberry Finn.
For me the word commitment has always had a double meaning, to me commitment is both terrifying and comforting, let me explain…
A) A commitment can mean “an obligation that restricts freedom of action.”
B) A commitment can mean “the state or quality of being dedicated and devoted to a cause, activity, person etc.”
As you can clearly see, even the fine people at Miriam Webster Dictionary can confirm the duality of the word “Commitment”. Perhaps you too have felt yourself in this conundrum about commitment or the act of committing to something or someone. In fact if you haven’t had misgivings or at least a hesitation over commitment at some point in your life I would suggest you may have to change your battery pack as you’re likely part robot.
We certainly have all met people who are so stricken with fear over Commitment that they avoid it altogether – as a friend of mine used to say to me as I flip flopped my way through “survival jobs” many years ago to support my career in entertainment “make a choice, because if you don’t, life has a way of making choice for you.” This scared me right into re-committing to my work as an artist.
We know these people, maybe we ARE these people, we are Commitment-Phobes. This presents itself in their reluctance to commit to a job, a project, a relationship, a health regime, a dream or a goal. One minute they are “in it to win it” and poof – the next minute they are gone and onto something else. They repeat the pattern of not committing, and find themselves either lonely, unhappy or unfulfilled in one or more areas of their life.
Most Commitment Phobia stems from a need to feel in control- one step ahead of what’s going to happen- and in some settings to mitigate a perceived future pain, disappointment or let down. On a deeper level we feel if we did commit to it, really open our self up to it, we could fail and thus hurt.
Why is commitment so scary?
No, commitment isn’t scary because you’ll have to walk 40 years in the desert… Commitment can feel scary because once we commit we are expected to follow through and thus wave good-bye to our other options. Many Commitment-Phobes are underneath it all perfectionists, perfection they believe erroneously will make them happy so ultimately they choose nothing. We are all faced with making the choice to commit to things in our life and it can feel scary because we feel we would be limiting our options.
However, when we make a clear-cut choice to commit to something whether it’s the dream you’ve been deferring, the fitness regiment you haven’t really done full out, the relationship you haven’t taken to the next level, the business opportunity you have put on the back burner until the “time is right”, the truth is that in that simple but declarative act of committing we open ourselves up to true freedom and get off the fence in our lives. Once we truly commit to something we can sink our teeth fully into it and experience innumerable layers of flavor, rather than a lifetime of smelling lots of delicious smells and never actually tasting anything. An empty feast of half-made decisions and half enter into commitments.
So here’s the biggest takeaway from this week’s lesson: Everything in our life remains on a superficial level until we commit to it. Everything is static until we silence it with a choice.
Certainly making a choice will close other doors around you. But when you really look at it, those doors weren’t really being used either. You were simply peeking inside, never stepping through to see what was on the other side. The act of knowing they were there might have made you feel good for a time, but eventually even those doors will close. When you finally pick a door and step through it, you finally enter into the life and the freedom you truly desire. In committing you access the abundance that resides on the other side of that half open door.
Take Action Now
This lesson might make you wonder. This lesson might make you want to make a choice. You might think about other people and say to yourself: “Sure, I’ll think about how to change myself one day too…” But nothing will happen, or change in your life unless you take an action. So go ahead and take an action right now by adding a comment of commitment below this article. Please tell all of us: What are you ready to commit to in your life? Could it be your health? Your big dream? Your relationship? Your passion? What have you been hesitating on for fear you will limit your possibilities? I encourage you today to begin to think about these questions and find what you can commit to so you can begin understanding the real meaning of freedom. By publishign it right here, and allowing the world to see it, you’re starting to commit to it already! I believe in you.