I’ve written about inspiration and creativity recently, so now let’s talk about Commitment as an essential part of the creative process.
I haven’t lived long enough to know how the concept of commitment has changed over the decades. I imagine (and hope) that in days of yore, commitment was an unequivocal promise to/for a specific result. To-day it seems that commitment comes with an addendum—I will commit to (whatever) always assuming, of course, that it isn’t inconvenient, too difficult, doesn’t cost money or take too much time, require too much of me, and I don’t find something else I’d rather do before the end is actually achieved. I imagine we all know about that sort of commitment.
To prepare this article, I studied many quotations about Commitment; most of them referred to relationships, business models, and philosophies, as if there were no other focus. I was surprised to see little mention of commitment as a Promise, or an expression of Personal Integrity. I saw only one or two that referred to Artistic Expression.
I found, though, that all these quotations had one element in common: commitment embraces challenge and will not be swayed. That to which you are committed is desirable and challenging in equal measure. If you are committed to writing a book, painting a picture, or composing a symphony, you love the desirable and embrace the challenge because what is most important is that the book, the painting, or the symphony is given Life.
What interests me so much about commitment is that every commitment you make, whether it is to Some One or Some Thing, is also a commitment you make to yourself. If you succeed, you will find happiness. If you fail, even by default, you will find failure a bitter poison which influences future commitments.
To be Creative, there has to be a desire, an idea, a belief in one’s self, and courage. Henri Matisse wrote that creativity is courage. Commitment is an extension of courage. You have the courage to want something else, which in itself is a brave thing—to want change. You have the bravery to imagine something new and different, leaving the commonplace behind. You develop a plan of sorts that ultimately will lead to the realization of your Dream. In order for the dream to become real, you must be steadfast in your courage, make that promise to yourself, and see it through to the end.
Commitment isn’t easy, and it is often simpler to say, ‘this idea is too difficult, too impractical, too risky, for me to pursue.’ How much do you want your dream to be real?
Some think that commitment limits freedom, but actually, it redefines and focuses the range of freedoms you have by removing irrelevant choices. For example, when you walk into a grocery, your freedom (your choice) is limited by what they have in stock. When you decide you want to make omelettes, your choices are refocused on what ingredients make omelettes. Within that redefined focus, you are free to choose myriad combinations of ingredients to create the Omelette of your Dreams. Not only that, there are a number of settings in which omelettes may be served, so you are free to choose the combination that creates the Omelette of your Dreams for this particular setting. All those choices are freedoms.
While enjoying these choices and pursuing creative ends, the object of your imagination and desire almost seems to take on a persona of its own. You adore that dream, and suddenly that dream is not as compliant as you’d like. In fact, it’s being downright difficult and capricious. This dream is in its infancy, and like an infant, it does not always respond the way you want, or the way you think it should. You may have discovered, to your great alarm, the dream/infant can be improved, which means undoing a lot of work (which itself is a lot of work) and doing something different (even more work).
In the process, you grow as your dream grows, and you become stronger as your dream becomes more real.
Commitment is risky. Commitment is also love.
You love this idea, this dream, and your sole desire is for it to thrive! You could no more discard this dream in its infancy than you could discard a real infant. You care for it, work with it, nurture it, refine it, and the dream actually begins to work with you! It is quite possible to be inspired by your own successes. There is an element of Grace in commitment.
The Commitment of love is as much to yourself as it is to your creation. You deserve to have your dream become a reality—don’t quit on it, and don’t quit on you. If you believe in yourself and your idea, but don’t follow through, you let yourself down. It’s true, it may be difficult, at times it may seem hopeless, or pointless, but it isn’t. No dream is not worth pursuing. As a person, as a creator, you deserve to accomplish and to succeed.
Nothing was ever achieved without commitment. Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without effort. Nothing satisfying was ever completed without love.
Don’t settle for Nothing.