There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.
It was a bit of an eye-opener, really, as it helped me to realize that up until now, I've mostly been interested in the things that mattered to me, not committed.
True, I have at times shown real committment. I am, and have always been, truly committed to doing right by my kids. And it required committment, not mere interest, to finish those last few assignments and get my degree. In fact, it required a change from interest to committment that I'll never forget: I was four assignments short of completing my degree, and all were overdue, and I had exactly one week to finish them all and submit them.
And I was just about to give up when I sat myself down for a talk, and told myself, "I can do this, and here's the plan."
And I did it.
So now, years later, I'm facing the fact that I have two areas of my life that mean a lot to me, but have, until this month, garnered mere interest, and not committment.
If you're a regular reader, you can probably predict what those two areas are. Yes, I'm talking about writing and music.
At the beginning of November, I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened in a given day, no matter how busy I was, I'd find the time to add at least 100 words to my novel. I've kept that promise so far, and it hasn't been easy. Thursday and Friday were horrendous as far as scheduling was concerned. Thursday in particular I was so exhausted by suppertime that I feared I'd once again drop the ball.
But I did it. I pushed myself and I did it.
Last night, we had our first concert of the season. I had no idea how I'd make it through the night--we played Beethoven's Seventh, and playing a Beethoven symphony is like lying down in front of a herd of charging wildebeast and hoping for the best. It's exhausting, at the very least.
But I made it through, of course. Once I sat down on my chair on the stage, there was no other choice. And I realized that we all have a choice when we're faced with really hard things, like swimming lenghts in a pool or playing a symphony or writing a novel or sometimes even getting out of bed. We can give up when we start to encounter resistance, or we can push ourselves on and see it through to the bitter end.
The first option shows we were only interested, the second shows committment.
The other eye-opener last night was an announcement by a member of the BOD of the orchestra that they were trying to find a way to pay all of the players an honourarium. Wha??? They want me to become a paid musician?
And I realized that the jump from dabbling amateur to paid musician required a step on my part: from interest to committment.
And I realize that I'm ready to take that step.
In rethinking my life these past weeks, I have realized that my main regrets from the past were due to not taking my loves seriously enough. I chose to take a science degree rather than a music degree as a teenager because music wasn't something one could make money at. No one told me that as a violist, I'd be in such demand that I could find employment without having to be the best player in the orchestra!
And I've wasted over twenty years of my writing career, just by being interested rather than committed.
Well, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
So I'll go for second best, knowing that in twenty years, I won't regret my decision to commit myself.