“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.” William H. Murray

Until late last year, commitment was a dirty word for me.

It was something that constrained my natural artistic flair, boxed me in and tainted my organic inspiration.

It was the rules scrawled on the high school wall.

“Thou shalt not do anything we don’t allow.”

I rebelled at school. After being a rather timid and shy kid, I discovered self confidence at the age of 14 when Miss Bowring (unexpectedly) gave me the lead in the school play.

From then on, rules were there to be broken as far as I was concerned.

And a commitment was a rule.

So, fuck rules.

And fuck commitments.

There is however, a much deeper form of commitment. One that is not about adhering to a code, or doing what you’re supposed to.

A true commitment is the meeting between what is already true, and what wants to become real.

It is the commitment to becoming who you already are.

And it is one that we must make, if we are to manifest the dreams for which we have been born.

We Deeply Misunderstand Commitment

Historically when I thought about the word commitment, I would think of commitment to something. A pledge to do something specific or undertake a particular action.

“I commit to doing 50 sit-ups a day.”

“I commit to finally making that course I’ve been thinking about for ages.”

“I commit to killing infidels in the name of god.”

“I commit to loving myself unconditionally.”

The original meaning of commit, is to ‘combine’ or ‘put together’. It comes from Latin. We don’t use that definition much anymore.

The modern meaning, to ‘make a commitment’ is really recent. 20th century. Probably from translations of Satre’s existential philosophy.

Satre had this concept he called engagement. When people translated his work from French, the term ‘commitment’ was used. This is from Stanford University’s notes on existentialism…

“Commitment—or “engagement”—is thus ultimately the basis for an authentically meaningful life, that is, one that answers to the existential condition of being human.”

As with any good philosophical text, the wording is abstract enough to allow multiple interpretations.

Here’s mine…

Commitment is choosing to be who we really are.

It is not a commitment to some abstract thing like we usually use it. It’s not committing to getting six-pack abs. It’s not committing to changing the world. It’s not committing to make 6-figures this year.

Rather, it is the practice of engaging life as our true self. Our authentic self.

A Commitment is Not Simply Made. It is Forged.

A true commitment is not something we simply make. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is not something that we must adhere to. It is not about keeping one’s word, or being accountable.

A true commitment is something that is forged. A fire-born integration of what is already true with what wants to become real.

The melding of two elements that hitherto were distinct.

True commitment is born from what is already true and within you. It is your essential desire, or soul’s mission. The purpose that is already there, a seed waiting in your deepest heart. It is formless.

True commitment is born from what wants to become real. It is the words and form you give to the seed of your heart. It is the shape of the grammar, the specificity of the words, the shape of the metaphors.

A commitment is not simply made. It is forged. It is the forging, from two disparate halves, of one powerful whole.

Inner formless truth.

Outer form defined.

For one without the other is not a true commitment.

A commitment without the inner heart of truth is not a true commitment. It is an empty promise to a notion of betterment. It is a shell with no meaning.

“I commit to 60 minutes mediation every day, so that I become a better and more present person.”

When my commitment is born from an idea that it’s good for me, that I should, that I ought to; it is not a true commitment.

A commitment without the outer form of defined boundaries is not a true commitment. It is a floating desire, ethereal and unreal. It is a spirit with no body.

“I have so many passions and deep yearnings. I feel them. They’re deep, and full of potential.”

When I cannot specify what I’m committed to being, when the words are vague, the definition absent, the congruence impossible to measure; it is not a true commitment.

A true commitment is the combination of unchosen desire with ruthless definition.

A true commitment is one that will change your life. Because it is born from who you already are, and will be enacted by who you become.

It is the entwining of two elements.

Element #1 – Sourced from Soul

“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” ― Rumi

You were born with a mission. A soul purpose.

You didn’t choose it. Not in the way we tend to think of choice. But it is yours, uniquely.

It was there, latent and unspecified, before you realized you could think about such things. It’s not a directive, or a prescription. It’s a feeling, a shape, a pattern. Like the unique design of a single snow flake. It is distinct but not defined.

It shows itself through every single thing you do.

It’s what has you feel drawn to one thing, and repulsed by another. It’s the whisper you hear when you’re quiet enough to notice it. It’s the string from which the background hum of destiny vibrates through your being.

You are here for a reason. It’s not meaningless.

But the way you define that meaning is up to you.

For that inner desire—that deep soul of yearning—has no form. It’s an incomparable and undulating shape. It’s a morphing sound at an irreplicable frequency. It’s a feel of something that cannot ever be sufficiently explained.

It is formless. It asks to be manifest. Created. Defined.

Element #2 – Bound by Words

“Language is the house of the truth of being.”Martin Heidegger

Words are concepts, empty. They are nothing more than signs to which we attribute meaning. If you see the face of God, he does not have words. If you show a word to a fish, it cannot comprehend the concept.

And yet, it is words and language that has given us access to the highest stages of consciousness that we know of. Self-awareness. Free-will. Creativity.

Without the incredible texture and power of language, you and I would not be able to think about consciousness. Or indeed be conscious.

Without language, you would not be reading these words. I would not be writing them. You and I could not talk about anything.

Words breathe consciousness into form.

And so, it is to words that we turn, as the second element of true commitment. In old folk tales, to know something’s name is to have power over it. To know your mission, your purpose, your heart’s desire, and to give words to it, is to bring it into power.

A true commitment is not something abstractly philosophical, meandering, and ethereal.

It is a statement. A declaration. The power is captured in the binding.

Binding is the art of giving shape, through words, to that which is ultimately undefinable. It is taking something that has no perfect definition, and defining it in a way that gives it form and power.

The Forging of an Item of Power

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
– J.R.R Tolkien

I have long been captivated by fantasy and mythology.

As a child it was King Arthur, Robin Hood, and The Hobbit. As an adult it’s been writers like Ursula Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Marrion Zimmer Bradley.

Great heroes in these stories often hold items of great power. The sword Excalibur. Thor’s hammer. The One Ring. These items of power are not only symbols, they grant the wielder magical abilities.

A true commitment is an item of immense power.

By binding the desire of your soul, with the potency of the poetic word, you call forth the power of your higher self.

By reaching down into the depths of your origin, and reaching up into the heights of your possibility, you can create that which you truly are.

By declaring your commitment with uncomfortable and ruthless clarity, you will lay the first stones of a road that will take you further that you can imagine.

This is the power of a true commitment.

What a True Commitment is

A true commitment is many things. And there are many things it is not.

Here are 6 things that a true commitment is…

  1. Precise, but not simple.
  2. Abstract but not vague.
  3. A statement that is (probably) less than 50 words but more than 5.
  4. An artwork that can be interpreted in a thousand different ways.
  5. Not a task that can ever be completed.
  6. Not a burden that one must carry.

A true commitment is the shape of your soul, bound by words, and declared to the world.

It is not something you can create in an afternoon. It is not something you should leave to your next life.

The forging process may be hard, hot and painful. But what is created carries untold power.

You carry untold power.

Define it. Declare it. Live it.

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Ewan Townhead

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you're interested further in my work, you can find out more about me here, and my coaching here.

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  1. Avatar

    Ewan how beautifully you articulate true commitment. This is what in the Unique Self Teachings is called Unique Obligation . . . another loaded word until it is understood as what is truly mine to do.

    • Ewan

      Ah, thank you Barbara. A loaded word indeed (at least for me)! Feel my inner-rebel wanting to get his teeth into it.. 😉

      And you remind me that I STILL haven’t read Marc’s book. Which I want to do.

  2. Avatar

    Hello Ewan, how clear and powerfully motivating!
    Many thanks for sharing your deep understanding and inviting us as readers to find our true nature and commit to what wants to be born.

    • Ewan

      You’re totally welcome Annette!

  3. Avatar

    Ewan, Thank you for sharing – And I thought a commitment was “I/you will do what by when”


    • Ewan

      Me too! Now, I’d call that a task. Different ball game.

  4. Avatar

    I love this piece you wrote. I understand it but i don’t seem to know it yet. Looking forward to the moment where i can feel and live my commitment.

    • Ewan

      I love what you say Mohamed – “I understand it, but I don’t seem to know it yet”. What is it that you understand? What do you not know?

  5. Avatar

    Thanks for your reply.

    What i understand is what you wrote in the first part saying “Historically when I thought about the word commitment, I would think of commitment to something. A pledge to do something specific or undertake a particular action.” This is how i’ve seen commitment as well up until a few weeks ago.

    Now more and more i try to discover and know what you discribed as “Commitment is choosing to be who we really are.” So what i don’t know is who i am and how to describe this in precise words.

    • Ewan

      It is a mysterious and mystical process in my experience. One part listening, one part interpretation. And the time-frame is indeterminate.

      What’s worked for me are a few things…

      Meditation. I’ll meditate on the question, “who am I? the one in this life?” I prefer doing it while walking alone in nature, with deep intention.

      I’m a writer so I’ll write on it too. Hours of inquiry, writing on the “I am…” and letting the first thoughts pour out of my unconscious.

      I also had a powerful session with an astrologer last year who spoke into the nature of my soul.

      But the one rule is, there is no rule.

      • Avatar

        Thanks for the directions 😉

        • Ewan

          You’re welcome. 🙂


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