The above, is my purse. I received it as a birthday gift. I’ve now had it for seven and a half years. I’ve had other purses in between – both bought and received as gifts. None could compare. The image is more or less an accurate representation of how it looks – disgusting would be the word. The image below might shed light on the fact that though it is a battered old thing that has weathered many storms (and other extreme climates, including people, especially careless, old yours truly) it’s still going good. I’ve changed several phones in the past seven years – the other object I have to have on my person at all times – but, I can’t seem to quit my purse. It has been a commitment I did not see coming.
Some of my more modest readers would see no problem with the situation. If it ain’t broke, why replace it? Of course, my primary argument is that people in snobbish shops judge you on the basis of how you carry your money, and I can see their facial expression changing the moment I pull this out to pay. I clean it often. There is not a single sign of wear and tear. More importantly, the particular arrangement of compartments is exactly suited to who I am and what I need. All other purses have too much or too little in comparison. They’re either too big or too small, have too many pockets or too few. I even have the exact same purse in brown that has never been used, because blue’s my colour.
Is this essay an elaborate metaphor on human commitments, or just about my purse? Well, a bit of both. You see, you can judge where you are on the commitment scale (commitment-phobe to committed) by how you treat non-human, everyday things in your life. Do you like variety in your choice of bread, or is it always the same kind? Do you want the latest car, even if you don’t need it or can’t afford it, or are you content with the one you have? Can you put up with your job, or your educational course, even if you’ve had problems with it?
It’s not about how much or how little you commit to things, it’s why you choose to have the relationship at all. If the world were to end today, and I had to carry my cash and cards to wherever the government would be taking us, I’d take the purse I always use. It’s not a trivial decision, because it’s carrying some of my most important things, and in my unscientific assumption, it seems like it could survive extreme conditions. It’s tried and tested. It’s endured. It’s stuck around for so long, that it has become part of me. I’m emotional about it.
Therefore, trying to determine the nature of a commitment before you’ve let it take its natural course does not give the impression of practicability. Sure, it is a condition that is both romantic (Carpe diem, anyone?) and common, but the only way you can truly assess the length and quality of a commitment is when you have lived through it. Most of us do not have the gift of premonition (some of us do pay those who claim to), but a way of determining how we might behave in our human commitments is to look at how we behave in our non-human ones.
I can be quite fickle when it comes to choosing ice-cream flavours, picking a new one each time if I can, but I have one I depend on (vanilla) and one I love (mango). What it reflects about me, perhaps, is that I like to try new things, but there are things I find pleasure in, while there are other things I can count on. I like to meet new people, but there is specific company I find pleasure in, and there are people I know I can depend on.
You can choose anything under the sun (or the sun and stars, if astronomy’s your thing), and conduct the above experiment, to see if it explains your relationships better. Even if it doesn’t, at least you’d be enlightened on one aspect of your life, even if that aspect is ice-cream (hey, that seems important to me). The object of this exercise is to be more honest with ourselves for the better of everyone and everything involved. Which is an idea worth committing to.
What are some of the things (or people) you’re committed to?