Intro: I never fail to be impressed by and grateful for the folks in our lives who honor and tend their commitments… to us, but especially to themselves, their studies, processes and dreams. They are made special by their rarity, for staying focused in face of distractions, remembering the reasons for their promises and then unfailingly keeping them. In Anima we teach that any pledge worth making is worth keeping, and that anything not worthy of that effort and devotion shouldn’t be promised to in the first place. While relatively few may actually donate to the School’s needs or commit to a Sponsorship, you do so with unerring faith and follow-through. And while none of us are flawless in this way, among the most dedicated and dependable are the Anima students devoted to their studies and practice, and the allies who support this work.
Commitment & FollowThrough
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
What in the world, is this world coming to? Increasingly we are becoming a one-world society made up of city-states, where neither individuality, privacy or honor have any real significance. We’re taught to compromise our beliefs, whatever the heck they are. We’re fed salvational technologist lies, as personal responsibility is replaced by avoidance, compromise and obedience. Instead of a code of honesty and compassion, we have a million and one complex new laws on the books regulating every element of our lives. Rather than seek out what are at times unpleasant truths, a growing majority of people would rather pay for the paddings of comfort with their precious mortal hours, and trade in their native rights in exchange for the illusion of safety. Outside of the cranky, archaic and highly opinionated rural towns of the West and South, it’s getting progressively harder to find anyone willing to “tell it like it is” no matter what the consequences, folks who live up to their oral contracts as well as the binding written ones, who make it a point to keep their word once given. Rare indeed, is anyone willing to commit… even to the very people, ideas and things they themselves most care for and believe in, let alone to fully follow through on those commitments.
I spent some of my teen years hanging around rowdy, socially deplorable outlaw bikers who – in spite of their numerous and indefensible bad habits – curiously demonstrated a considerably greater degree of commitment and loyalty than the average citizen, including those politically correct and particularly sweet Peaceniks who nonetheless tended to look down their noses at my greasy-jeaned, saddle-sore buddies. And of all the truly deeply caring, alternative type folks I have known since, sadly only a much smaller percentage seem to have taken in what it means to commit to a relationship or a project, or to follow it through on something to completion no matter what the obstacles or reasons.
Maybe it’s living in close proximity to the land that does it, setting the example with nature’s intense determination, extracting or inspiring a greater degree of authenticity and response, but I know far more cowboys and farmers that actually do what needs to be done, manifest their ideas in the real world and real activities, or bring to a finish what they once set their minds to. My rural neighbors from Montana to the Mexican border often set the example when it comes to living their dreams, holding a marriage together, keeping a promise or completing a self-assigned task. As it was in the days of the pioneers and before, if someone says that they’ll cover a debt later, they usually do. If they tell you that they’re going to punch you, it’s time get out the rag for the inevitable bloody nose. But when they pledge their friendship, we can generally count on their help and support no matter how odd we were at the time, or how unpleasant we might have since proven to be.
There are some basic tenets or beliefs that both the intense Anima teachings and the West’s largely conservative rural population generally hold to be true, that:
• A commitment is an unbroken promise. And a pledge, deliberately and continuously fulfilled.
• Commitment is the full investment of the self – with no provision for default, no requirement of success, and no room for regret.
• Commitment binds us to that which we are committed to.
• Taken together, commitments form the foundation for relationship.
• It is better to fulfill commitments to a very few things, than to commit to many and fully honor none.
• We earn credit for the depth of our intentions, the degree of our commitment, and the extent of our follow-through.
• Commitment requires regular attendance: For example, one cannot claim to be committed to a buddy or spouse, unless we are there for them when we’re needed. Or to a goal or practice, that we only honor one day a week.
• Commitment requires hands-on effort.
• Commitment begs for completion: We can’t say we’re truly committed to a process, unless we’re braced to stick with it through the very end.
• Commitment requires insistence: One isn’t truly committed, unless that commitment survives every distraction, challenge and test.
• It can take a hundred promises kept, to balance out a single commitment failed.
When folks are called on to define what’s best about “old-timey” or “country ways,” they often mention the qualities of gumption and completion, commitment and follow-through. In the real world anywhere, one is measured not so much by what we think or say as by what we actually do.
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