I’ve been thinking a lot lately about commitment. My mom and I had an interesting conversation about it a few days ago, and it hasn’t left my mind. She talked to me about an article she read, in which a woman and her friend were cycling in the Oregon woodlands. One woman biked ahead, and rounded a bend, out of sight from her friend. Not long after the woman was out of sight, her friend heard her scream bloody murder. As she sped up and turned the corner, she saw that her friend had been knocked off her bike by a mountain lion, which had a hold on her, and was trying to drag her into the trees. The woman jumped off her bike and grabbed hold of her friend’s leg. She was trying to scream and hit the lion to let go, all to no avail. Obviously, by now, her friend was in extreme pain and in shock. Her friend was holding onto her leg with everything in her, and maybe a little more, but told her that she would never, ever let go, ever. Nothing could make her leave her and give up. Nothing.
Soon after, two young men in a car stopped and threw rocks at the mountain lion’s head until it eventually let go of the biker and skulked back to the forest. Authorities hunted down the poor animal and shot it, realizing that it had killed another biker when they found his remains (well, half of them anyway).
So, commitment. I was so impressed with the woman’s words, “I’ll never let go.” I don’t doubt that any of us, in a similar situation, would let our brother or sister or friend or spouse be dragged off in the jaws of a wild beast, saying, “Wow, sorry. Rotten luck, but I just don’t know how to save you.” No, of course none of us would do that. But what stirs me so much, is that in the face of absolute, stark raving fear, this woman refused to let go, to give in. And yeah, in a life or death situation such as that, I believe we’d all fight for our life or someone we love.
But…what about another situation that requires commitment, perhaps something important, but not so dire? How do we find that kind of commitment in our life? How do we find the desire to stick to a goal or to fight an obstacle without letting go?
I’m reading a phenomenal book right now, entitled Lone Survivor. It’s the true story of a Navy SEAL who, along with five of his friends and comrades, were stationed in the Afghan mountains searching out insurgents and terrorists and members of Al Qaeda. All of them were killed, murdered by terrorists, except for one man, the man who later wrote this phenomenal story. There is a short passage of the book that really hit me, and I think it applies to what I’m trying to write about today:
“Marcus, the body can take damn near anything. It’s the mind that needs training. The question that was being asked involved mental strength. Can you handle such injustice? Can you cope…with that much of a setback? And still come back with your jaw set, still determined, swearing to God you will never quit?”
Isn’t that true? This particularly hit home for me regarding my recovery from an eating disorder. I think, oh, weight gain. But it hurts so much and it’s so uncomfortable and scary, how will I ever do it? But the body can take damn near anything, even a little stomach pain from eating so much food. It is my mind that needs training, discipline, commitment. Why can’t I just commit to recovery? How do I acquire such mental strength, especially in the midst of my own personal stark raving fear? Why can I not consign to the idea that maybe, just maybe life will be okay if I’m at a normal weight? …And then my sneaky eating disorder mind creeps up, and it tells me that I’m fine, and that I’m not unhealthy, and that I don’t need to gain weight or do anything at all. And I think, yeah, that’s right. It’s not like I’m in the jaws of a killer who would drag me off and destroy me. And then I realize, but maybe I am. Maybe it’s a different kind of killer. Maybe it is a matter of life and death.
Commitment: It’s a tough one.