Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I came across the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann because of a friend. It has, as of late, become my mantra. There is powerful counsel in the words of that poem. The title is Latin for "desired things."

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
You are a child of the universe...And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should...With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. And that's all I have to say about that.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On Being a Commitment-Phobe

A phobia is defined as, "A persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it" (Webster's Dictionary). I therefore, suffer from commitmentphobia. Look it up. Wikipedia mentions it.

I have this very irrational fear of commitment and being tied to a specific thing or job or activity, and so I move around frequently. To avoid commitment to Utah, I leave every couple of weeks. I can't commit to finish school early because I have things I want to do -- extravagant vacations and the like, if you will. I can't commit to relationships or houses, marathons or rock concerts. I hate the idea of commitment for some strange, crazy reason.

The problem is that life requires commitment. Sort of a big problem, right? We commit to an education, to a career, to a faith, a political ideology, or a significant other. All these are essential to finding meaning and purpose in our life. Does a life of commitmentphobia mean a life void of meaning?

I am, however, working on overcoming this phobia. Despite being a nomadic gypsy person, I have successfully decided to commit to a job in Provo that will further my career opportunities. I have planned to finish school on time, which requires staying in Utah starting in April of next year. I have committed to a plan of action for my life after that. I have a five year plan. Finally, I am committed to something.

Commitmentphobia stems, I think, from an inability to make decisions. It's a great trial in life to not be able to make decisions. Making decisions is part of life and when we are indecisive, we try to cop out of living by delegating the decision making process to someone else. We are afraid to make the wrong decision. In our futile attempt to please everyone, we become useless to the very being we need -- ourselves. Our life becomes nothing more than what other people want from us. Nothing is ever what we want.

This is not to say that we should be self-interested, atomistic, individualistic beings. That's a terrible, awful idea. It is to say that to overcome the plague of commitmentphobia, we must do things for ourselves, things that we want to do and not things that others want us to do.

Perhaps, commitmentphobia does create a life devoid of meaning -- personal meaning. Psychiatrist Victor Frankl wrote, "A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes -- within the limits of endowment and environment -- he has made out of himself...Man has both [positive and negative] potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions."

Let us then make the decision to be a man and not a thing. Let us shed our commitmentphobia.