ISSUE Magazine

Don’t Hold Back by Ai Ming

I have always been passionately curious. I enjoy talking to people as I try to put myself in their shoes and understand their perspectives. I believe that one of the best ways to learn is to learn from other people. Sometimes I act as if I’m a social scientist trying to expose the underlying explanations of human behaviour. It’s absolutely fascinating.

So, going through my early-20s, gullible and clueless in many areas of life, “commitment” has always been my favourite topic to explore when I have conversations with people from all walks of life.

In many instances, the basic definition of commitment is open for contest, so I find open-ended questions are especially helpful. I often ask questions pertaining one’s decisions to take on a commitment (e.g. job, career pathway, relationships, parenting, new business ventures, etc.) and one’s actions to stick it out, or even give it up.

“How did you know he (or she) was the right one to commit to?”

“Why did you take that job?”

“How did you know that was the time to send your kid away from home?”

“What would you do if your long-distance boyfriend proposed tomorrow?”

It is a rewarding exercise because people always have interesting stories to share. Some made me cringe in response, some left me hopeful in glee and let’s not forget those that made me question my mortality.

After years of exchange of ideas with people, what I had gathered about commitment is that it is a bundle of what-ifs and doubts. It is an unknown territory where decisions are often instinctual. It’s a journey replete with uncertainties that one could lose sleep (and weight) over. It scares people to death, is what I have always been told.

When it comes to committing, most people say that they just knew; that “it” was the right thing to do at that very moment. They felt a “hunch”. They heard the “whisper from life”. They consulted their gut feelings. These responses used to make me raise my brows in disbelief but not anymore, because they appear to be the norm.

There are people who took the promotion offered by their company and agreed to move to a foreign country. He decided to join the army; she said yes to a marriage proposal and started a family with the man she loves; they decided to adopt a child from a third world country; he decided to come out of the closet to friends and family; they decided to file for divorce; many of these decisions were made because “it felt right”. 

Well, that’s not very helpful advice, is it?

However, there is one thing certain about making the jump: that it would bring about change, major and minor ones, incremental and drastic. Everything would never be the same again. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said it thus: “You never bathe in the same river twice.”  Taking on a commitment would bring about movement and progress in life.

It would shake your world. It would unearth the truth and the lies. The outcome might be bad or good, but the experience would shape a person and a person’s life in some mysterious way.

It is a new beginning.

It involves courage. It requires love. It is about perseverance. It is upheld by a mental mindset of willing to risk it all, knowing that there’s no guarantee that the amount of effort and time invested would generate the expected returns. It’s almost like walking on a tightrope.

It starts with making a choice.

But don’t forget to infuse it with an infinite amount of optimism and hope. Sprinkle it with some pixie dust if you have to, because the common belief is this: it is this esoteric thing called “faith” that would make the ride bearable and worthwhile. Some said a supportive community helped them in keeping their heads above water and I say amen to that!

At the end of the day, no one said that taking the leap was easy, and no one dared to guarantee that it would be easy, but it could be effortless, and it is rewarding.

Ai Ming enjoys the role as an observer of life, both of her own and  of others’. It is a position that is free of judgments and somewhat nonchalant. Just like a fly on the wall.

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This entry was written by Ai Ming and published on 10/10/2012 at 20:29. It’s filed under Ai Ming, Essays, ISSUE5, Musings, Writings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Don’t Hold Back by Ai Ming

  1. Insightful and encouraging, I think this piece sums up making commitments quite nicely – it’s scary, but necessary.

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