A Couple of Gems in the World of Fierce Commitments

Then again, if you want to see a wolfish grin on the face of God, just say, “Now, I’d never do that.”

 Steve Roberts black ink drawing: being with oar standing in boat on sea of hearts and stars

What it takes to be healthy––I’m not talking about just exercise, 165 ways to eat kale and having a dollar in our pocket, but to forever strengthen our ability to respond well to anything––includes two fierce commitments:

  1. Ever deepening our clarity on who we will be or die trying.  Not what we will “do” in the world, but who we aspire to “be” in every moment––manifesting our highest potential.  Gandhi was committed to dying with the name of God on his lips.  That’s the kind of fierceness I’m talking about: the orientation of our internal compass regardless of what’s outside.
  2. Assuming complete responsible for our every thought, feeling and action: appreciating that both misery and happiness are self-created.

My beloved and I just marked the 37th anniversary of our first marriage ceremony.  We’ve had two others along the way, at years 10 and 20.  I doubt we’ll have any more.  Ceremonies are symbols; reminders, if you will, of the sacredness of one’s choices.  When by who knows what stroke of grace daily life becomes increasingly a divine celebration, there may be no more need for special reminders.  Then again, if you want to see a wolfish grin on the face of God, just say, “Now, I’d never do that.”

Thirty seven years, in itself, deserves no special mention.  The fear of loneliness and simply staying alive can tick off the decades for partners who share little more than the time of day.

The measure of our partnership is that it gets better all the time.  Well, after it got worse, and we woke up to what love demanded.  But even in those early days when things fell apart and we didn’t live together for a year and knew we might not live together ever again, our bond somehow transcended our immaturity, keeping us from poisoning ourselves with acrimony.  Talk about miraculous.  No wonder St. Thomas Aquinas stopped talking, saying basically God was beyond human understanding so why should he bother banging his gums.  Increasingly, awe and gratitude have been the predominant emotions about our marriage, even when the pain of ignorance presents something new to forgive.

Those fierce commitments are a big reason why:

  1. Each of us, beginning long before we met, lives a consuming romance with spirit.  Which makes our marriage, rather than an end in itself, a servant to our highest aspiration: the experience of God, even if we don’t know what that really means.
  2. Neither of us assumes responsibility for the other’s happiness.  While it is our intention that every choice we make individually takes into consideration the best interests of the other, cherish as we do their presence, their wisdom, their laughter, their bullshit detector––under no circumstances are we the cause of their heart’s well-being, even if, in a moment of loopiness, we tried to be.

I’m not telling you this because I think what works for us will work for you.  That’s nuts, and the trigger of a whole lot of horror in the world, you’ve no doubt noticed.  Rather, so far as I can tell, paying attention to one’s life as best one can and sharing with others what one is learning, with no attachment to what they do with it, is, just maybe, the fundamental activity of being a healthy member of the human family.

It’s certainly a valuable skill for those who aspire to leadership, the art of providing perspective that helps others make wholesome choices.  And the perspective with the greatest integrity is rooted in what we’ve learned from our number one teacher: our own experience.



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"I honor that we are killing the earth for the same reason I consider being an alcoholic a privilege: it is a doorway to the profound self-understanding required to make truly healthy choices."

The Essay: Honoring the Killing of the Earth