I had a group meeting yesterday on the theme of commitment so I went looking for inspirational poems or quotes while I allowed myself to get side-tracked into The New Yorker for poems and cartoons.

Being in a slightly melancholy mood, I turned to a melancholy-sounding poem called “The God of Loneliness” by Philip Schultz. It’s about fathers queuing outside a toy store for their sons and it reminds me of how I tend to take my own father for granted. Then I read “One can miss mountains” by Todd Boss. The last lines go: “A man can leave this earth and take nothing — not even longing — with him”. Loneliness and longing remind us of what we’re trying to regain. Jack Gilbert, in “After Love”, writes: “There is somehow a pleasure in the loss. In the yearning. The pain going this way and that.”

There’s nothing I can find about commitment in The New Yorker poetry section but there is a fun poem about gadgets by Dorothea Tanning called ‘Never Mind’. “I caught the toaster eating my toast,” she says. “Did I press the right buttons on all these buttonless surfaces, daring me to press them?” And then I enjoyed reading “Slow Drag Blues” by Kevin Young. I like the part about grief who keeps dogging him and who he addresses as “Good Grief”.

And then a quote on Commitment I can use (by W.H. Murray, who also quotes Goethe):

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (& creation,) there is one elementary truth— the ignorance of which kills countless ideas & splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents & meetings & material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.


3 Responses to Commitment

  1. Funnily enough, I just read a beautiful post on the same topic. See here:

  2. litlove says:

    I like the commitment quote, but as I get older, I’ve found it harder to access that sense of glorious liberation which comes with making a leap of faith. It seems to get harder with experience, not easier. But still, a lovely selection of literature to guide and enlighten.

  3. Pete says:

    Charlotte – thanks for the link and I enjoyed reading Angela’s tribute to her dad.

    Litlove – yes, I think I agree with you about decisions getting harder as one grows older. I think the temptation is to make a bold decision and then to stick with it no matter what. But experience tells us that many of the decisions we make can be misguided. The intention might have been noble (or worthwhile) but the decision itself was possibly wrong. So then the honest thing to do is to revise the decision, to be commited to the idea but not to the way it is carried out. I think the Iraq War should remind us that decisions are not always correct. The intention (to depose a terrible dictator) was a noble one but I’m not sure that that was worth a whole war.

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