While I was away this past weekend, I did something I haven't been able to do in a while. Two things, actually. I read an entire book in one day. And I read much of it while spinning away on an elliptical machine. Now this multi-tasking? It felt good. For me, there is nothing quite like a physical and intellectual sweatfest. (Note: This is exactly how I studied for the New York Bar Exam; Notes in hand, on my trusty elliptical which has since bitten that proverbial dust. Much like my career in the law.)
The book? Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed. Now, I am embarrassed to say that I only read the first fifteen or so pages of Eat, Pray, Love. But I will certainly go back and read it now because I enjoyed Committed. Now this book is an exploration of marriage and as a married woman and curious soul, I found this to be immensely interesting stuff and if you want to read a more thoughtful post about this book, please click here. But in reading Gilbert's words, I found myself interested in something a bit more general: the question of commitment, of giving ourselves wholly to something or to someone.
Needless to say, the book got me thinking about my own life (and I think this is something good books tend to do). I thought about the things I consider myself committed to. And there are a few. More than a few.
First, the obvious...
I am committed to Husband. Five-plus years ago, we exchanged vows and traded rings. In so doing, we expressed our fidelity to one another. But this is not why I feel committed to him. It has nothing to do with the state or the law or paperwork that was filled out several years ago. I feel committed to him because I love him deeply and exclusively, because in the years we have been together, I have literally not looked at another man. (Not that way, at least.) I feel committed to him because he makes me laugh daily, because he swaddles our girls in the deepest of daddy affection, because he listens to me and holds me and knows me and loves me. I could go on, but I don't want to risk further nauseating the cynics among you and this is really not the point of this post (although it is Valentine's Day week and a little mush is perfectly apropos.)
I am committed to my girls. These little creatures mean absolutely everything to me. Every step I take, every decision I make, every question I ask, every tear I shed, is rooted deeply or more superficially in the soil of motherhood. I am a mother now. This is my most important role to date and it informs everything I do and every aspect of my evolution. I have said this before, but parenthood is the lens through which I now see the world. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Those blue-eyed babes? They are it for me.
I am committed to my family. A couple days ago, I wrote a post about family. About how it is my number one. And it is. I hail from an impossibly large and loving family (four sisters; nine aunts and uncles; over thirty first cousins; you get the picture). I am incredibly close with my mother and my sisters and Husband's family. (I know, I know, it is borderline criminal to love the In-Laws. But I do. Guilty as charged.) I had a rich and rewarding childhood, stuffed with family fun, and I am doing everything in my power to make sure my girls can say the same thing one day. Oh, and I've made no secret of it here, but I hope my own little family grows. When the time is right. (When is the time ever right? Alas, fodder for its own post.) Truth be told, if ever forced to choose between a bevy of kids and a string of best-sellers, I'd choose the former any day. (Sorry, Agent, Editor, Publicist, Readers.)
I am committed to my friends. I don't know how I've been so lucky, but I have collected some absolutely incredible friends along the way. Friends who are interesting and quirky and accomplished and hilarious and talented and supportive. Friends who have literally been there with me from day one. Friends who stood by my side as I married my man and lost my Dad and welcomed my girls. Friends who I encountered more recently as I entered the wild waters of motherhood. Friends who I have met and continue to meet right here in this odd and wonderful ether of the thing we call the blogosphere. My happiness is hinged squarely on these friendships and I am deeply devoted to my friends. All of you.
Next, the more idiosyncratic...
I am committed to writing. I broke up with Mr. BigLaw several years ago and ever since, I have been committed to writing. Our relationship was tenuous at first. I didn't really know what I was doing. I played hard to get. I suffered from dizzying bouts of writer's block. But I persisted, clinging tight to my evolving craft. (I hate the word craft. It is mucho pretentious.) And now? My days are packed with words and ideas and chapters and posts. A day does not go by without writing. Each and every day, I say 'I do' to writing. These words, these simple words, never get old.
I am committed to dreams. Despite everyone's (and I mean everyone's) advice, I started my forthcoming novel LIFE AFTER YES with a dream. Per the experts, this is cliched and a telltale sign of amateur craft. Apparently, I am an amateur. And one who favors the big, bad cliche. I felt strongly about starting my book with a dream because that's how important I think dreams - actual and metaphorical - are. I think they highlight what matters to us, what we want, who we are. By writing these words here now, by immersing myself in the precarious life of a writer, I am following a dream. And I am committed to chasing this dream and whatever others might arise.
I am committed to questions. I have recently concluded that there are two types of people in the world: Answer People and Question People. The former breed are people who keep long and efficient lists, who like to diagnose people and situations, who discern blacks and whites among life's grays. Proudly, I fall in the latter camp. I love questions. I love how they echo. Like some of my beloved counterparts, I plan to live a life of questions.
I am committed to conversation. This one? This one is huge. Too huge for a fleeting mention. I have said it before and I will say it again (and again): For me, happiness is conversation. My fondest experiences and sweetest memories are of conversations. In the last couple of weeks, I have had a handful of conversations that have been absolutely amazing. Conversations that I will never ever forget. Conversations that will stick with me forever. I can't wait to tell you all about them. And I will. Tomorrow.
So, there you have it. My many commitments. And as I write these final words, bringing this post to a not-so-tidy close, I wonder whether it is possible to be truly committed to all of these things? Whether each of us has a limited commitment capacity? Whether we spread ourselves and our attention and affection thin by saying I do to too many people and too many things?
(Told you I was a Question Person.)
At this point in your life, to whom and to what are you committed? Are you crazy committed like I am? How do you define and recognize commitment? Are you a Question Person or an Answer Person? Have you read Elizabeth Gilbert's new book? Would you like to? If so, please leave a comment here before 11pm EST tonight 2/10/10 for a chance to win a copy of Committed!