Commitment might seem like a strange topic for a column about single life, but a couple of things happened to me this week that demonstrated the power of commitment and I knew I had to write about it.
I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed. It was all about the history of marriage, her disdain for it as a concept and her eventual surrender to it. My sisters are both married, and one of them told me once that she could feel secure through the rough times in her marriage – the disagreements and arguments and tensions – because she knew her husband wasn’t going anywhere. They were committed, and therefore safe to share their true feelings, allow themselves to be vulnerable and assert their perspective. As a single person, that resonated so deeply with me, and confirmed my willingness to wait for that kind of relationship as well.
It also reminded me of the power of commitment in all areas of life. This quote by W.H. Murray, of the Scottish Himalayan Expedition sums it up: "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.”
This was brought home to me this week in a big way. Since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006, I have been saying I was going to write a book about my experience as a single survivor. I have been writing this column diligently every month for more than four years now, and in the back of my mind, I always thought perhaps someone might stumble upon it and want to publish it. I have no idea how many people read it regularly, and I get only occasional feedback about its impact on readers, so I really had no idea how easy it was to “stumble upon” my writing. Well, this week it actually happened. A publisher contacted me out of the blue to talk about A Single Cell the book.
Now, it’s important to talk about the role of commitment in all of this. Because for five years I have been talking about writing a book, and hoping to be discovered, but it wasn’t until I made a commitment and took action that it actually happened. Let me share what I’ve been up to the past few months. In April I bought a book How to Bring Your Book To Life this Year by Andrea Constantine and Lisa Shultz. In July, I joined a book group of women who are committed to writing books. We are reading the aforementioned book, meeting monthly to talk about our books and holding each other accountable. Through this process, I have been thinking about my book, doing the exercises in the book I’m reading, brainstorming titles and I have declared publicly that my book will be published by the end of 2012.
I have ideas for three books, and I have been diligently practicing learning to receive (the topic of my last column) because I thought that would be the book I’d write this year. If I hadn’t been practicing my receiving, I might not have taken my friend Mike up on a generous offer he made me a month ago – to join him at an author conference in Las Vegas last week. This event was rife with publishers, agents, marketing gurus, book designers and others. I couldn’t afford to attend this event on my own and almost said no to Mike’s offer to go as his guest and share his hotel room for free because even the plane ticket and meals were a stretch for me.
However, because I allowed myself to receive that gift from Mike, I made great connections, learned a ton about the publishing industry and most importantly, began to see myself as an author and speaker with a message that can make a difference to people. I came home and started putting together a press kit, surprising myself at how many media interviews I have done over the past few years on this topic – on television, radio and in magazines. I stayed up late to work on this one night, and the very next day, a publisher came knocking on my door. Coincidence? Absolutely not! Whether or not this publisher is the one actually doesn’t matter either, because my commitment to getting published will carry me toward the right path. It is the commitment that is most important.
I have mentioned Mike Dooley and his Thoughts Become Things mantra before. I heard him speak recently at a signing for his new book Leveraging the Universe, and what he shared fully supports this idea. I should point out that I have heard this message a million times from other speakers, authors, gurus and friends as well. There is always a moment in time, though, that cements something we have heard before and we really learn it, and see how it applies to our lives. The way Mike Dooley phrases it is this: set an intention, and give it to the universe – don’t worry about HOW it will come to pass. By fixating on a certain path, we limit other opportunities that might not even be on our radar. Let the universe find the most efficient and effective path for your intention. Your job is just to put it out there in the world.
At my Unitarian Universalist church, we light a chalice at the beginning of each service, and at the end, when we extinguish it, we say the following: We extinguish this flame, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community, or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts until we are together again. I wish for you the fire of commitment. Take a moment to explore and write down the things you are committed to today. It is only through setting the intention and/or making the commitment that they will come to you. Once it is set, let go of any fixation on the way it might come to fruition.
I am committed to:
Living an adventurous life
Enjoying complete freedom over my schedule
Making a contribution in the world through my words and actions
Generating abundance in the form of love, prosperity and joy
What are YOU committed to?