… By the Bottom of the Glass (On Commitment)

There are many things that can be described as ‘acquired tastes’. For me, coffee was one of these things.

My early relationship with coffee was largely defined by my laziness. I totally hated coffee until I started working in an office where there was always a warm pot waiting. The caffeine seemed worth it, but I was too lazy to simply ask someone where the cream & sugar was… so I started drinking it black from the get-go. While the top half of the cup would make me cringe, I found that by the bottom of the glass I could manage. It didn’t take long before I was into it. As in, pretentious levels of ‘into it’.

A few years back I read Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. After hauling an extra 5 pounds of paper for a month of my summer, I still trudged through extended monotony. I had a conversation with a friend, who suggested that I bite the bullet & move on. There is, after all, seemingly endless quality literature.

I eventually did finish the book. Of the 500 or so pages, the last 50 and the epilogue made the slog entirely worth it. The picture was rich & full & complete & moving. I even went back & re-read the final chapters a month later; I felt their profoundness even more the second time.

To be clear, I don’t think that putting yourself through pain is always worth it: my younger sister was in Chem30 her final year of high school, and it was making her miserable. She ultimately decided that a science degree was simply not worth four years of turmoil (being a perfectionist who doesn’t especially excel at science). In her case, I think that evaluating what was ultimately important (personal & mental health rather than that specific degree) was prudent. Not all causes are worth fighting recklessly for.

I heard comedian Aziz Ansari, Tom Haverford from Parks & Rec, speak on CBC radio recently. He mentioned that his parents had an arranged marriage; while it may have begun as uncomfortable & unfamiliar, they put in the years & work to create sometime beautiful, falling totally in love somewhere in the middle. I hope that we can all, similarly, find something worth committing to.

There seems to be something powerful & meaningful about commitment. While some of the best things in life are spontaneous & unexpected, others make us work for them. This may be a new book or a caffeine-based hobby, or a friendship that simply needs a second chance. Or even a third. Commitment is difficult. At times, incredibly difficult. But maybe it is only beyond the challenges that we overcome that we find the freshness, novelty & little unexpected joys that follow.

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