We scurried out of the house. We just scored an hour with Jen’s parents watching the girls. A huge sigh of relief for both of us.
It was in the 30s outside. I said, “Let’s walk.” Jen said, “It’s too cold. I’ll need to get a hat and gloves if we walk.” I shrugged it off. We hopped in the car and started driving.
I got to the light. I realized how silly the objection of getting a hat and gloves was. Walking 20 feet to get hat and gloves wouldn’t have been a big deal. I was committed to taking a walk with my wife. I hadn’t conveyed the commitment to her.
I decided to turn around at the light. The donut shop we were visiting already in our line of sight. It seemed foolish to turn around. I didn’t care. I was committed. Commitment requires foolishness. We went home, parked the car, got hat and gloves and walked on a beautiful crisp morning. Together.
Marriage does not complete you. It doesn’t solve any problems. It creates more of them. The same is true of having kids, having a business, owning a home. Anything that is a commitment.
Commitments create more complex problems that are more rewarding to solve.
Commitment is a platform when we embrace it. It lifts us. The stress created by working within constraints increases our capacity to persevere, be patient, be compassionate, work harder, love when we don’t want to, show ingenuity to find what can be done in apparently impossible situations.
Commitment is a noose when we always look to escape. It strangles us. The stress created by pushing against the constraints makes us weaker, irritable, frustrated, impatient, lazy and unloving. We grate with ingratitude against what we have. We chafe while choking toward what’s out of reach. We find what can’t be done in otherwise, resolvable situations.
We are wired to seek out the easy. The path of least resistance. The way of the weak. It’s born from when we lived lives requiring outrageous conservation of food and energy.
Judging by what I ate over the last month and my T-Rex sized carbon footprint from flying 3000 miles and taking a road trip in 13.7 MPG SUV …. those days are behind us.
The behavior is not.
We are still rewarded for committing to conservation. What we conserve has changed. Attention and emotion are the new limited resources. We can squander them. Or we can conserve them to devote to our commitments. Our commitments thrive when we do. They are choked off when we don’t.
It would have been easier to drive to get away. It was better to hold hands with my wife, give each other our attention as we enjoy a chilly walk.
Committing won’t make this year easier. It will make it better.
It’s a new year. What will you commit to?