We’ve all been part of, or witnesses to, this conversation. We are in a relationship and it’s going well, but we are contemplating putting an end to it, because the other person “just won’t commit”. We go on and on about everything we have invested in this endeavour, how we have spent time, energy, effort and emotions on this person, but at the end of the day “what’s the point of going on if we don’t know where it’s all going”. Why try and stay in there, if we don’t have any guarantees that they just won’t up and leave some day. And it’s not just relationships that face this spell of doubt from time to time. We apply this way of thinking to almost any aspect of our lives. Why go to gym every day, when it’s almost impossible to get into shape? Why save up, when the taxman or inflation will take it all away? Why work hard, when no one knows who that promotion will go to? Why commit to anything, when we know it can be lost in a blink of an eye? But on the other hand, we want commitment. We expect it. And it’s the job of those closest to us to deliver it.
The more I think about it though, the more I realize – we don’t control what others do or want or aspire to. We can’t demand something from another, if they are not willing to surrender it freely. We can’t expect or get attached to future outcomes. The future does not exist. What exists is the present. And the only thing we can control, is ourselves. Extracting a promise of ‘forever’ might sound appealing and comforting now, but ‘forever’ is a myth, a chimera for those who sit and wait for things to happen to them instead of making it happen for them. So we demand promises for the future, we expect the person next to us to bend at our will and construct their life upon the blueprint of ours, and inevitably, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
Commitment however, is not a myth. It’s just not something we can find out there. Because it can only exist within. It’s about having a clear vision of who we are, our values, principles, character, and acting out of them consistently and without compromise. It’s about having a vision for our future, and who and where we want to be. And committing to make improvements and take action every day to make that future happen. In love, it’s about being the best partner you can be and, without sacrificing your integrity or your own happiness, to bring light, peace and joy to the one you love. It’s about committing, every day, one day at the time, to give your best, to be your best, given what life you want to live and what kind of a person you aspire to be. Today. Relationships that last a lifetime were not built on a once-off promise or vow. They last a lifetime made up of one day at the time after the other. The commitment, made every morning, that today I will love you and no one else, that today I will be faithful, that today I’m by your side in sickness and in health… And that’s how days turn into months, and months turn into years, the years into a lifetime.
My partner and I have a little ritual. Every morning we say to each other “Happy so-many-months-and-days together, my love. Today I love you, today I’m yours”. We congratulate ourselves for having made it so far and we promise ourselves to each other, today. And for that day, we are as committed as two people can be.
So don’t wait for promises and assurances. Nothing is certain in life, everything changes. Decide what you are committed to and pursue it. Passionately, relentlessly and with burning desire not to get it all but to give it all. You might not always get what you wanted or hoped for, but at least, looking back at it one day, you will be able to say “I gave it all I had and I made the best of it”.