One word to describe myself? Non-committal. The only things anyone could accuse me of ever committing to are my marriage and my children. Those two things naturally arrived in my life, however, and most of the time it's less about me committing to them than it is them sticking with me. Otherwise, I enter all agreements, all situations, all opportunities with my weight firmly planted on my pivot foot. I've mastered keeping an eye on the prize and an eye on the door. My husband tells me, "Make a decision," probably more than he tells me he loves me. Ambiguity is my modus operandi in keeping options open. The word forever irks me as much as the word always.
This isn't to say that I'm flippant, or unreliable, or that I aimlessly let the wind blow me from one thing to the next, no goal in mind. I live by my calendar and my self-imposed to-do lists. I can do the same task, stay with the same plan, for years on end, as long I never promised that I would. At all times, under all circumstances, I reserve the right to change my mind, change my mission, change my position.
I never had any trouble committing to my husband because it's hard to walk down the aisle with one foot out the door, not to mention the fact that I stood in front of a church of people and said, "I do" to all those questions rifled at me by the pastor. I would never go back on my word. But everything else I've ever started hasn't required promises of that magnitude; only an exchange of "Will you?" with a "Yes" followed by me thinking, For a little while, until I get tired or bored or someone annoys me. Last summer, my thoughts wandered while I lounged on the beach letting the tide that brings colorful cargo ships, like clockwork, in and out of the mouth of the Savannah River wash over my toes. I got to wondering what it must feel like to jump into something with both feet, full-on, no regrets, no looking back; to actually commit. I didn't want to miss out on that feeling, so I did it..
Imagine me, a woman my age, making up my mind to do something my mama nagged me to do throughout my entire childhood. If she could have been privy to my internal unwinding of how I would ride the high of commitment, she would have said, "You call making up your bed a commitment? What do you call cleaning the toilets? A holy sacrament?" .
Yes, ridiculously enough, I decided I would commit to making up my bed every morning, or at least on a regular basis, or, at the very minimum, consistently. I've never even been able to commit to a bad habit, like smoking or drinking, so committing to a good one, whether anyone wants to believe it or not, scared me. My palms sweat and I got the overwhelming urge to run.
But here I am, a year since I announced to my husband and children my intention to throw myself headlong into daily bed-making. I can still remember the looks on their faces. Regardless of their inability to take me seriously, I am proud to say that I have made my bed almost every day for 12 months.
The problem is, I have a nagging sensation that maybe deep down in my subconscious I knew that by not telling my mama I gave myself an out; which leads me to believe I have yet to experience the thrill of a full-fledged, no-holds-barred commitment.
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny . She lives in Thomso. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and go to www.IfMama.com.)