21 February 2009

The "C" Word

"The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating-in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life."~Anne Morriss, Starbucks Customer, New York (The Way I See It #76)

A Starbucks cup. It's a paper cup, nothing special really. The only thing that distinguishes it from any other paper cup is the iconic logo on the front and the delectable goodness inside. A while back (I know not how long ago), Starbucks had the brilliant idea to invite their customers to submit their thoughts for consideration for publication on the back of one of these unremarkable cups. I thought it was great! I've read some amazing quotes over the years, and some that should just be tossed in the trash along with the rest of the rubbish. So it goes with opinions. But one day last week, as my husband and I sat down to enjoy some cinnamon dolce lattes, I stumbled upon the gem which you read above. I read it again. And again. It really struck me as more than opinion. This was wisdom, deep seated and spawned from experience. I enjoyed my latte and took the quote home with me in my head.

Three days later: I'm alone, going to Starbucks to write a bit before heading home. I order a cinnamon dolce latter (it IS my favorite). I sit down at my too small cafe table and begin to type. Suddenly, I glance over at my grande paper cup and I see a suspiciously familiar word: commitment. No. There's no way! I pull of the cardboard skirt that surrounds my cup and blocks all the delicious warmth from burning my hands and thawing out my fingers from the biting cold of another Georgia cold spell. Sure enough, printed in indelible black ink, is my quote. Well, not mine, but you know what I mean. How could this be? The same quote, twice, in a row? Hmmmm. It got me thinking.

This thinking produced a rather interesting bucket of thoughts. I tossed out most of them and kept just what stuck to the sides: the realization that I am afraid of what people think. So afraid, that it has governed my decisions for the past 31 years. O sure, I've made strides in this war on fear, but not enough. No. And it took a quote on the back of a Starbucks paper cup to point me to the truth.What does commitment and fear have to do with each other?


You see, we all have dreams, yes? We all have things we long to do, dream of doing, places to go, people to meet. But unless we commit to doing them, commit to seeing them come to pass, we will succumb to the first tremor, the first storm that blows through that tells us "NO!" or "YOU SCREWED UP" or "I DON'T LIKE THAT". *Gasp* Dare I do something that no one approves of? Dare I stand up to the "no" that holds me back? Dare I yell back, "I DON'T CARE!!!"Yes. Because if I don't, I die. And there's not one bit of good a dead person can do. Not. One. Bit.

I know how it feels to die. How, you ask? Have I physically died? No, my soul has not left my body and returned. But I have had my dreams shatter before my eyes. I have had someone tell me, under no circumstances can your dream come true right now. In that regard, I know what it's like to die, to have a piece of me cut out, trampled over, and left bleeding on the ground. I know what it's like to hold my dying dream in the palm of my hands and have no idea how to resuscitate it. I know what it's like to hold my husband in my arms and hear his sobs because the word NO meant the end of our deepest desires.

But you know what? I also know the freedom that NO can bring. I know the freedom that, after you scrape yourself up, after you dry your tears and call the "powers that be" all manner of names and curses that what matters is that you are still there. That God is not finished with you yet. That there is still something left for you to do. And you know what? That something is what you desire with your every breath. How do I know that? The Bible says it. You may not believe in the Bible. That's your decision and your right. But I do. And I ask you to hear me out: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". It's in black and white. And it's stood true for over 2000 years. Why don't more people see their desires? I blame our Puritan ancestors and their restrictive, manipulative, Calvanistic beliefs. But that, my dear children, is another post entirely.

Something else that came to light: I survived. I lived through the worst possible thing I can imagine right now. And I'm here. And I have nothing to lose. NOTHING. Because I've heard the word "NO" for my deepest desire, and I'm still standing. It makes me wonder? What else dare I try? Dare I step out and open my own business? Sure. What do I have to lose? Someone telling me "No, you can't do that?" Ha! Watch me. Dare I finish all the novels and screenplays in my head? Yes. What do I have to lose? Someone tell me "You're Not Good Enough"? So. That' s what 70+ publishers told Dr. Suess. That's what several recording companies told the Beatles. That's what 10 years of rejections told Madeleine L'Engle and she turned around and won the Newberry Award for Fiction with that "unpublishable" book after a decade of "failure".

What separates those who are told NO and die and those who pick themselves up and plow forward anyway, stubborn as mules? Commitment. When you commit to something, you are in it for the long haul. You are there until "death do you part".

I'm not just talking about marriage, although there are plenty of people out there who should realize this BEFORE they say "I do". I'm talking about anything. If you have an idea, commit to seeing become a reality. That means exhausting every possible resource, ability, talent, connection, etc. you have to making it happen! The Bible says with God NOTHING is impossible!

That says to me that God does the impossible. If that's true (and I believe that it is) then that means it's up to us to do the possible. When you've exhausted the possible, then (and ONLY then) can God step in and do the impossible. He's not going to carry you to the door if you have two perfectly functional legs. But he will make a door where there is none if you get your lazy butt off the couch and make your way over the crap, and through the mess, to get to the brick wall.

I say all this to get here: what are you committed to? What is it inside you that you know you are here to accomplish, to see into reality, to birth into this world? Have you been told no? Have you? Has someone come to you and said, "Nope. Bury that dream. It ain't gonna happen." Guess what? That last thing you should do is that. You need to look them in the eye and say, "You're wrong." Exhaust your every option. Call the president of the company. Write to Congress. Demand to speak to the manager. Once you've exhausted every option, if the answer is still no, you have two options. You either do the next best thing, and know you've done your best and wait for the right time and ask again, or you can die.

I don't' know about you, but I'm not through asking; I'm not through fighting. And when I am, if the answer is still no, I'm go to suck it up, thank God I'm still alive, put my self in plan B and work my butt off there. Then, when the time is right, I'll strike back out at plan A. And I have a funny feeling, it will pay off.


MrsGower said...

I wish I could write like you.

Anastasia said...

This post was really inspiring. I can't truly say that I have been told my dreams won't come true to the point where I feel like I'm dying. But I have had fear, plenty of it. And if I ever do face death, I know that I can handle it and maybe I will have to come back and read your post for some inspiration. Thank you. Who knew starbucks could provide such inspiration!