I’m on vacation! Hoo-rah! I’m in Traverse City, MI staring at East Grand Traverse Bay from the balcony of our condo. It’s 6:00 AM and everyone else is asleep. It’s a little chilly. I’m drinking coffee that’s gritty with grounds because I’ve lost the ability to actually brew coffee without a one-cup-coffee-pod brewing system. But coffee is essential so I’m drinking it anyway. The lake is still and looks luminous, like a sheet of glass reflecting the sunrise.
And that’s why I’m two days late getting this blog post written and posted so here we go…
We’re talking about Declaration and Commitment. (Eeeeek! Another c-word.) Last week I wrote about Choice and Experiment. I guess it stands to reason that if choice is difficult then commitment may be a psychological conundrum as well. So let’s dive in, shall we?
First, what is the difference between Choice and Commitment? Commitment may be as simple as making the same choice over and over again without fail every damn day. One of the things I’ve noticed about my ability to commit is that it’s easier for me to commit to projects that involve other people – collaborations – than it is for me to commit to personal projects where I’m relying on myself to show up only for myself.
I think this is because I’m a chronic people-pleaser and because other people naturally hold us accountable. I’m thinking about the multiple theatre projects I’ve easily committed to throughout my lifetime. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a rehearsal or a deadline for a play in my life.
But, let’s say I want to complete the first draft of my WIP, currently titled Earth Scorcher, in 100 days – which means I need to write an average of 1000 words per day – which means, at the speed of writing that I’m currently capable of, I need to sit down for at least two hours each day in order to get it done. Two hours for 100 days!
That’s nothing. That’s less than one rehearsal a day for less than two plays a year – so I know I have the time. I make the time when I’m acting or directing – not to mention all the time outside of rehearsal: learning lines, blocking, set-building…
There is absolutely no reason at all that two hours of writing time should be a barrier for me.
But, in the writing scenario, I’m only accountable to myself. And, like I said, it’s much easier for me to disappoint myself than it is for me to disappoint an entire group of actors, a production crew, and an audience. Well, I may have disappointed a few audiences, but not because I didn’t show up.
Here’s the other thing – commitment within the comfort zone is soooooooo much easier than commitment outside the zone. Acting and directing are firmly inside my comfort zone. That doesn’t mean they’re easy or that they don’t require effort – just that the kind of effort they require of me is effort that I’m familiar with, that I’m trained in doing, and that I have acquired technique for. With writing I’m still slogging through that swamp of wanting to write a good book, imagining the kind of book I want to write – and then facing the contrast of the book I want to write with the book I’m currently capable of writing based on my current skill level. In other words, I suck at writing right now. I have to slog through the swamp of learning and being horrible at what I’m doing until I’ve done it enough for my skill level to actually improve and reach an acceptable standard of skill. I have a lot of learning to do so I have to be willing to show up and be uncomfortable.
I have faith that I will get better, but only if I show up for myself every day and actually write.
Purpose, by nature, I think, is a personal project. Living with purpose every day requires commitment. And often that commitment will continuously call on us to live and learn beyond the edge of our comfort zone. I think, if we’re truly living on purpose, our comfort zone will be constantly expanding.
The act of commitment is often preceded by a declaration of some sort – a wedding, an audition, a job interview, a contract.
I’ve read a lot of books on creativity and getting your creative projects done and very often they will have a page at the very beginning of the book where you sign a contract with yourself. I understand the concept of a personal contract, but I’ve failed to meet the terms of most of them. In other words, I’ve signed them because they’re at the beginning of the book and I want to read the book, but I know it’s highly unlikely that I will succeed at fulfilling the terms of said personal contract, but I do it anyway and roll my eyes at myself because I don’t feel like I’m allowed to read the rest of the book if I don’t do the exercise of signing the contract…and so I sign it. And then I close the book.
That personal contract exercise doesn’t work for me.
Declaration on the other hand has more teeth. A declaration is public. It requires witnesses. A declaration is a public pronouncement that you are dedicating yourself to something bigger than you know you may be capable of, but you are so in love with the person or the ideal that you are willing to declare that it shall be so in front of God Herself and your grandma. It’s scary. It’s bold.
Making lasagna does not require an act of declaration (especially if it’s Stouffer’s). But, going to culinary school because you want to be a chef and create food that makes people roll their eyes heavenward with ecstasy requires a declaration in the form of an application, an interview, an acceptance, and a large non-refundable deposit. Declaration is a big deal. It’s a demarcation of life before and life after.
This blog is my declaration.
By writing and publishing in this space, I hereby declare that I am committed to exploring the concept of purpose and what it means for a middle-aged woman to rediscover and recommit to her personal purpose. And by doing so I’m expressing my deepest secret desire to fall in love with life again.
Declaration requires witnesses so, dearest readers of this blog, thank you for being my witnesses. I mean that from my heart to yours. I’m committed to showing up so we can explore this process together and I hereby invite you to declare yourself.
I’ve thought about setting up a weekly commitment call. If you think something like that would be helpful to you, let me know. Something simple. We show up for each other at a certain time, we share our progress for the week before, we declare our commitment for the upcoming week and we rinse and repeat.
Okey dokey. Here comes the sun and we have a pontoon reserved for the day so it’s time to hit the water. I also have to go pick the coffee grounds out of my teeth before I can interact with other humans. Next week is all about action. Woo hoo! Happy declaring and committing to you!