Lesson 1 – Commitment

This post is part of a series of lessons taken from the pages of a well-worn and treasured keepsake, my journal. One fateful night, while homeless on the streets of Paris I met my teacher, Savannah, who turned me in the direction of the life I ought to be living. As I fought to find my footing with her teachings, I did what all writers’ do, I wrote them down, and now I am sharing them with you. Each lesson is designed to build on the next, take time to catch your breath; the pace is up to you.

No more promises – it’s all or nothing!

You are in a swimming pool and someone much stronger than you is holding your head under the water, you struggle but you can’t get away. After two very long minutes he releases you. When you were under the water, what did you want more than anything? You wanted air. You wanted to breathe, right? When you want a new way as much as you wanted air, a new way will be shown to you.

Heart in JarPut your hand on your heart. Come on, just do it.

Focus your mind on your heart. Feel it beat. Deep breath, feel it. There is love in every beat, feel it. Give it a minute.

Now look around. Where are you? See the chair, walls, and computer, whatever is in your sight. Give it a minute.

And back to your heart. Feel it beat, feel the love.

There’s a difference, right? Maybe connecting with your heart made your eyes a little watery and maybe focusing on the world outside stopped those tears from flowing, and then back to your heart, there it was again – maybe.

Touching the heart felt good; it jostled you a bit, because you forgot what that feeling was like. Yes, I know – me too. If you want to live from the heart, then something’s got to give. Here’s what I mean.

Fear is strong stuff; the knot in my throat was choking me. My harrowing night had just begun and I had already fallen prey to my deepest fears of being trapped somewhere with no escape. That scary world outside; where I was rejected and screaming for help dissolved when I met Savannah. Within an hour of our meeting she reintroduced me to my heart. Feeling it beat beneath my hand, I had an instant feeling of calm. I tried but I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I felt calm. The feeling of love and everything that goes with love; trust, affection, exuberance, and hope found a way in and took me over. I knew I wanted more of that. I asked Savannah if I could join her adventure with Lauren – she said yes. (Stay tuned for more about our adventure.)

Day one of my adventure with Savannah and Lauren, I was told awareness came in stages. Savannah asked me to write in my journal my thoughts on each stage as I progressed along the path. There were seven stages total and Stage 3 is where I want to begin.

Stage 3 – Commitment, accepting the help!

I wrote this pledge to myself on my first day of Rehab. “I, Jose Miguel, commit to this process, commit to myself, and promise to press on and to keep getting up, no matter what!”

Savannah asked me for a Commitment and I said an enthusiastic, yes, on the night we met and I have kept that promise. She knew there would be no success without it. She got in my face and said, “I want nothing from you except a Commitment. You will need to dig deep and bring every ounce of passion you can muster to the table. This way is hard – really hard. Can you make a Commitment?”

This word Commitment was not new to me, but before I wrapped my arms around it and fully embraced it, I needed to look hard at its history. What causes my gut to churn at the mention of this word? It is time to air it out, it’s time to understand.

My parents understood the importance of Commitment from their son, success in life demanded it and they expected success. Oh, my mother would ask for a Commitment, but her way of asking was so different from my father. She was kind and gentle and from a very early age she would stand me in front of her and look lovingly into my eyes and say to me, ‘I know you have it in your heart to do your very best.’ She always spoke of love and heart – be kind was her mantra.

My father’s approach to Commitment was different for his only son. ‘Good, he would say, but you can do better. Being a good student is never good enough – be great! This is what I expect from you.’ I would shake at the sight of him; he intimidated me so. I just wanted to run from the room when he appeared. Mi Madre was the buffer and made endless excuses for his criticism, ‘He is having difficulty with a client, you know he loves you son,’ she would say. But it didn’t help, the fear and the hate were growing stronger every day; he demanded too much from me. I blamed him for my mother being taken away. It was someone’s fault and I convinced myself, it was his. It hurts my heart to write these words, but I must be honest.

No more tip-toeing around the obvious. My mother died because she got sick and couldn’t get well. My father loved her deeply for the same reason I loved her deeply, she lived from her heart. My father’s father made demands on him same as my father made on me. His wife and my mother would be there for each of us, soothing us with her loving words and with her gentle caress, making the hurt all better. His suffering was as deep as mine if not deeper, but he couldn’t show it, he now demanded from himself; perfection.

Savannah feels like a fluffy warm towel right out of the dryer; her style is familiar and in a strange way comforting – it’s both; my mother and my father. Her words are concise and definite, same as my father, and her methods are clear and sharp, no grey areas. And my mother, well, she listened when I wanted to express myself, she allowed me to shed a tear if I needed to, and she looked deep into my eyes and touched my heart – yes, Savannah does the same. Oh, they loved their son and wanted the best for him, their approach may have been different but it was what they knew from their past.

Here it is, plain and simple: Without Commitment what would be the point? Everything would be random and mediocre at best. Scary thought but true. It’s not what you do – it’s how you do it. Thank you to my mother and my father for teaching me the importance of this word, Commitment. I forgive and forgive and forgive again my hate, my anger, and my shame. I see the truth and one day I will look my father in the eyes and tell him so.

Te quiero. Joey