I’ve talked recently about our new perception of “radical” not as something to avoid or fear, but as something to embrace and cherish.
This week we continue to navigate this space of radicalism and ask the question:
Where is our commitment?
If we start the word origin discussion again, we will find that the word commitment has Latin roots roughly translating into “to entrust” or “to give in trust”
Commitment = Trust?
So then, perhaps, the next question we should be asking is:
Is my fear of commitment really a fear of commitment, or is it a fear of trusting, of letting go, of giving into faith?
Our culture nowadays is consumed by instant gratification and finding “solutions” out of any problem.
With information literally seconds away thanks to our vast array of technological devices, it is actually relatively easy to get out of the uncomfortable zone of not knowing and needing an answer into the arena of “all knowing whiz kid;” just ask any teacher or professor who has been questioned literally seconds after making a comment in class, OR any medical provider taking care of a patient with a smartphone, tablet, etc.
It’s what I call “Real Time Feedback.”
BUT, before we stray too far from the real intention of this post, I bring us back to my ultimate point:
Uncertainty is not the enemy.
Curiosity feeds on uncertainty and breeds with faith for as Anne Lamott most eloquently said, the opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty.
And faith my friends, is the daily COMMITMENT of trusting, of letting go, of accepting that we may not and will not have all the answers.
And that is entirely okay.
You are probably wondering now, “Great, this is kinda helpful, but I still don’t really see the relevance of commitment and your original question.”
Where is our commitment?
This is precisely the question Anand Giridharadas asked as part of his podcast appearance with Krista Tippett in late November 2017.
“I think what’s happened to us is that we’re not committed to each other as a people, so it’s almost like we are in this situation where any disappointment that we encounter in our fellow citizens is like a reason to break up. And part of commitment as a citizen is embracing other people’s dysfunction, and embracing other people’s incompleteness, because you know you have your own.”
Not your commitment to a religion, diet, sports team or school club, but your commitment to people.
Dysfunctional, challenged, but beautiful people.
It has also been said by many wiser than I, that we must wake up and see the true human being around us, for “everyone is fighting a great fight we know nothing about” and while we may not know what they are fighting, we only need to know that they are.
We run away from uncertainty with our I-phones and run away from each other’s troubles by living in social media bubbles, closing our eyes when it is most convenient.
I admit it. I’ve been a “bolter” running from things I didn’t understand, running from tension, disappointment, conflict, relationships when things felt uncomfortable.
But that lasts only as long as your lungs and shoes will carry you.
And guess what?
Lung and laces do not last forever.
As I have continued to embrace my own mosaic, my fragmented, but integrated whole, I have found peace in declaring my beliefs, in bearing my heart and in standing up for the values most deep to my core. I have found comfort, not in seeking to relieve all the suffering and problems of my patients, but in KNOWING them, in SEEING THEIR DISAPPOINTMENTS AND THEIR HEARTS and LETTING THEM KNOW I DO.
I cannot chose the problems of my patients.
Some in the medical community would love to run away from the complicated, dysfunctional and disappointing.
But to deflect the problems of others is to also deflect their joy, their love, their belonging.
Armour blocks disappointment just the same as it blocks joy and a back running from hurt is the same back that cannot see joy.
For in truth, as I see it
YOUR problems are OUR problems.
Not your problems.
Not my problems.
But OUR problems.
If that is too much of a leap for you, I completely understand.
It is a leap I take every day and sometimes I am able to jump farther than others, but jump I always do.
If it helps you, start by simply seeing another’s hurt, another’s pain as YOUR own.
And if you are like most people, it will be easy to get motivated about YOUR pain and YOUR problems.
And from this place, of “inward” motivation, slowly but deliberately seek to go from MY to OUR.
YOUR, MY, OUR
YOUR MY OUR.
YOUR MY OUR?
Your my our.
And with that, perhaps, we have found the answer we were looking for from the beginning.
It’s Time to Get “Hoptimistic”
Some people differentiate hope and optimism by describing hope as the unwavering belief to face any uncertainty and optimism as the practical means of approaching life to make hope possible.
I like to think of the two, however, as a single, united concept,
together creating one way of being
Pronounced “hop” like a rabbit (a favorite of mine!) and optimistic just as one would normally say it, a “hoptimist” is someone who desires and hopes for the world to be a better place, but thinks, speaks and acts as if the moment, right now, in joy or in loss, is entirely enough. Choosing to see the positive as well as the negative, hoptimists realize the existence of “negative” circumstances, but, they do not allow such circumstances to lead to negative feelings and emotions or allow the challenges to influence them into damaging or hurtful actions.
As I see it
Hope requires faith while optimism requires awareness.
Hope is knowing that something better is possible, optimism is knowing it already is.
Simultaneously seeing the moment for the positive opportunity that it provides, AND aspiring further towards an experience, a calling, a dream that seems so far off is exactly what being “hoptimistic” is all about.
Seem confusing or contradictory? Perhaps, but maybe that is exactly what it takes to be a “hoptimist” seeing the glass half-full even after it is spilt and BELIEVING that the next time you go reaching for that glass of milk that it will end up in your mouth instead of on the kitchen floor.
Hoptimists spill milk.
Hoptimists feel each and every drop of milk cascading from the counter.
Hoptmists may even cry for the fallen liquid.
But hoptimists, however, never stay around long enough to get wet.
Faith won’t let them.
Often asking more questions than it answers, poetry is not actually meant to solve problems or provide immediate answers. It is really meant to elucidate problems and unearth perspectives previously locked within the confines of suppressed curiosity and languages incapable of full and authentic expression.
Sounds like the opposite of solving problems, to me.
Yes, it most certainly does, but to me, solving problems or discovering helpful solutions is not a linear process.
Much of life is experiencing the present moment and collecting knowledge that will only later grow into wisdom and help solve a future issue.
In practical terms, we must learn to open to the present experience and accept new ideas without immediately seeing their relevance or impact.
I call it,
“Receiving present solutions to future questions”
“Receiving disguised solutions to questions you cannot yet ask.”
Ever read a textbook, studying for a test, only to discover that nearly everything you “studied” did not appear on the subsequent test, yet two years later, as part of a very different class, an aspect of what you studied came back into relevance and actually became the foundation for a project or paper?
This is a quite literal example of acquiring present knowledge or “answers to a question not yet asked,” but how about something more abstract, yet practically more relevant.
We are relational beings.
We do not really exist without others.
We are interactions, we are the interface.
One of our most accepted beliefs is that when it comes to relationships, we tend to view them through a progressive lens, building and growing through partnerships and letting certain relationships pass away to make room for more nourishing connections and flourishing friendships.
Ever say, “I don’t regret dating them, because it allowed me to open more fully and receive my future partner.”
“Even though it didn’t work out, it prepared me for my next relationship.”
In the immediate moments following a break-up, divorce or relationship transition, did we really have a concrete answer to how we would be better prepared for a future relationship, or know exactly what we had learned in the transitioning relationship that would later allow us to flourish in a future partnership?
Most likely the answer is no.
When I ask myself this question and reflect upon such moments of transition, my answer is a most definite no.
I had no idea I was acquiring precise answers and concrete insight that would later allow me to unconditionally love and accept a future partner.
If you really think about it, who would ever say, “Yes, I am remaining open right now in our relationship so that I can learn and grow with you because I need to acquire some helpful answers and insightful wisdom so that when we break up I can be a more supportive person to a future partner or eventual spouse.”
We definitely don’t say that.
But this is precisely what we must do: remain open in all experiences knowing that even if the answers and knowledge we uncover in the present moment appear completely irrelevant or remain entirely hidden from our conscious awareness, it is possible and quite likely that thirty years from now, when you finally unearth those curious questions you couldn’t yet ask, you will birth a previously “discovered” and “miraculously” retrieved answer.
Miraculous and mysterious, yes, impossible no.
All that is required to find these unique and undeniably precise answers is openness, awareness, reflection, and right action, all practiced without attachment, without judgment, without fully knowing.
Genuine Openness, Present Awareness, Mindful Reflection and Purposeful Action.
A recipe, a poem, or collection of thoughts, whatever you call it, just know there are lots.