Friday, 13 October 2017

The Things I'm Committed To

I recently discovered the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.  It was described to me as being like Bible study but for the wizarding world which appealed to me straight away.  I always say that we can learn a lot from Harry Potter and the stories are a big part of my life, so the idea of applying more instructive reading practices to it sounded really interesting.

So far, I’m about 4 episodes in, and the first one in particular struck a chord with me.  Each week there is a different theme.  In the first episode, presenters Vanessa and Casper read chapter one of The Philosopher’s Stone through the theme of commitment.  They looked at what each character is committed to and even though I knew these things about the characters already – for example, that Hagrid is committed to looking after the vulnerable and outcast, and Professor McGonagall has a strong sense of duty – I’d never really sat and thought about them in so much depth before and it was really good to listen to.  In some cases, it made me love them even more, and it even made me see the Dursleys in a more positive light!

Towards the end, when the discussion turned to how the theme of commitment could be applied to everyday life, Vanessa commented that there are things she could be committed to, but isn’t.  For example, she could be a marathon runner, but she hasn’t chosen to take that path and put in the effort required to do that.  And that’s not a bad thing.  She’s committed to other things, like her chaplaincy studies, and being healthy in general.

It really got me thinking about how we define commitment and how it’s something that we can easily get bogged down in.  If you haven’t got a measurable goal or an achievement that can easily be quantified by others, or you’re not visibly busy with lots of projects and hobbies, does that mean you’re not committed to anything?

Like Vanessa, there are things that I could commit to if I wanted, but I haven’t put the effort into choosing those things.  One that springs to mind is that I often feel sad that I’ve lost touch with so many people from school.  I went to a great school with some amazing people, and somewhere along the way I let those relationships fizzle out.  I haven’t been committed to having a large circle of friends.  But, something that I am committed to is maintaining my relationships with my small circle.
I think what I ended up with on my mind was not so much about commitment, but about how the things you are committed to make up who you are, and that it’s okay to be that person.  You would never call me a social butterfly, but that’s fine – I simply haven’t chosen to be one.  Something that (I hope) you could say about me is that I’m a loyal friend, and that’s a commitment that I have made.

The more I thought about it, I realised that there lots more smaller things I’m committed to.  I’m a conscientious employee and it’s always been in my nature to get my head down and get on with what I’ve been asked to do.   I take myself into work every day and keep up this diligence even though there are lots of times it would be much easier for me to stay home.  I’m dedicated to my family, I love spending time with them and if any of them needed me I would be with them in a heartbeat (I’m the eldest child so it’s probably in the job description, but I take it very seriously!)  I’m committed to Paul, our relationship and building our lives together.  I have always loved reading and I consciously put effort into nurturing that passion by collecting books and reading as much as I can.
In the podcast, Casper and Vanessa discuss a passage from the chapter.  It’s right after Professor McGonagall reminds Dumbledore that he could beat Voldemort because he is the only one the villain fears.  Dumbledore replies that he is flattered but that Voldemort has powers he will never have.  They ask whether this is him acknowledging that he is not as powerful, or saying that he does not want to go down that path?

As Dumbledore would say, it is our choices that make us who we are.  There are lots of things I could be were it not for the fact that I try to be the opposite, and I’m happy that the traits and habits I’ve chosen to commit to, consciously or not, are positive ones.  There might be bigger goals and achievements in my future, but these are the strings I have to my bow now.  That’s something I’ll try to remind myself of whenever I’m feeling like I haven’t achieved what others have – my commitment might not be lifechanging or as visible, but it’s there.

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