Some notes on commitment

[epistemic status: it works for me, but I am a bit preachy on this. Take with a few spoonfuls of salt]

I am talking a lot about commitment, and committing, these days. I am even hosting a relationship cookbook on the topic tonight.

I am realizing that, since a few years, commitment is something quite simple, something that is both a choice and something that emerges. It is more similar to building a habit than a huge decision.
The way I feel, it started around 10 years ago, when I realized that no new single experience would probably change me drastically: I had done my traveling, my crazy adventures, I had lots lovers, and more or less had gone through lots of my bucket list. I started to realize that new experiences came at the cost of, well, committing to staying with the old ones.
The way I see it now, new connections are easy, while developing connections for years, working through struggles and disappointments and when the shine wears off, is hard.
And worth it.

A bit like the practice, in meditation, to notice the breath. The breath is essential, it becomes really clear when we cannot breathe for even a few seconds. That first breath of air if we have been underwater for minutes is amazing. And then we forget.
But it is still the same, it is still needed the same.

So I felt I was done with “consumerism of experiences”, I was done needing the freedom to do new things. I wanted the freedom to enjoy what is already good, what was good in the beginning, and that I made progressively better.Because nothing new will totally and permanently fulfill me, but being able to enjoy what is there, improve it, and find new fulfillment in it day after day, can.

It goes a bit like this: once you find something good enough, that is good for you and that you enjoy, stay and work on it.
Stop looking, at least for a while: this is good enough, there is no need to constantly look for something better.
It reminds me of the Kālāma Sutta: once, “thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it.

This can be about something huge, like a spiritual and ethical practice, but it can be about small things, like: flossing every night, meditating and journaling every day, having a movement practice that you like and that makes you feel good, eating well, partial fasting, cold showers, cleaning up after yourself, the way you like your morning coffee, the friends you have, the place you live in and make a bit better every day.

“But there is no choice in that” I hear you say, “I do not wonder all the time if my friends are the best friends I can have, I do not worry about that”.
And that is precisely the point: once we get in the habit, we do not wonder if we should floss before going to bed or not [I]I keep on hammering about flossing because it took me forever to start doing it, and my mouth is so much happier now, and I feel a bit stupid for having waited so long, we just do it. And if sometimes we do not, it is not a big deal: I can skip flossing a few nights, notice the difference, then go back to it. I see it as a commitment: since this is good for me, I will stay with it, make it mine, and not worry about it until something changes.
Because things change: friendship can become toxic, maybe our movement practice doesn’t fit us anymore, maybe flossing is now really bad for us.
It is not once and forever: it is a way of deepening, experiencing the freedom of not having to choose and doubt every time, and the freedom to experience what happens after a while.

In a way, commitment is what happens after I have done it already, I have been doing something for a while, it got better, and it became such a part of me that I do not have to worry about it.
Commitment is created by trying to commit, and seeing what happens after a while: is it good? Is it bad?
Of course, it can also be a double edged sword, like everything: as noted above, things change, and I can end up committed to something that is not good anymore. If I built a lot of momentum (and commitment is all about momentum, not having to rethink things all the time), it can take a while to change that. And again, this can also be a good thing: once I am committed, I can keep on going and working on something that I KNOW is good for me, even when things get hard.
That is often good.
And sometime it is not: sunken cost and all that.

It is always a dynamic dance. The answer is always “it depends”.

How does this apply to committed relationships?
For me: in every way. But I will leave it as an exercise for the reader.


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