Making a commitment to someone you love may seem easy. No big deal. But, as we all know, living out that commitment is something else entirely. Here’s a brief sketch of our trail of ad hoc commitments—some of it may sound familiar, particular, or perhaps even peculiar.
We met at Miami University in the fall of 1969. It was a time of social unrest in the midst of the Vietnam War. The draft had been reinstated and lotteries were held after dinner in the dining halls within the dorms. It was a very tumultuous time, with the “discovery” of free love alongside, or maybe as a contrast to the organized violence of war. Our first commitment was really just a date in February of 1970—a campus concert by a dynamic new group, The 5th Dimension. Of course, they played their hit, “The Age of Aquarius” which was one of the mood-setting songs of the era.
Our second major commitment arrived with the winter of 1972, when we wandered through Europe together. I had just finished a semester in London and Cheryl was off to student teach in Athens. During that month-long experience together, we caught glimpses of who we were as individuals and as possible future partners—both affirming and scary at the same time. Our unwitting commitment was to not make a commitment!
Our third important milestone together was a bit more formal. On September 7th, 1973 in the intimate campus chapel in Oxford Ohio, witnessed by only our families and a few close friends, we were married (this event was a bit out of character for us, since we thought of ourselves as “free spirits”). But the decision felt right and so we made the commitment. Little did we know what we had really gotten ourselves into!
Following that little ceremony, there was a mere 18-20 year stretch of living out that promise. Time went by in a flash. The clamor of everyday life with work and kids caused us to reconsider the meaning of the word commitment. At times it seemed that commitment to a mental ward somewhere would have been appropriate for one or both of us—a safe distance from Life’s routine madness of parenthood and partnership. But like so many, we just buckled down and tried harder.
26 years into the journey, we took the plunge into a different kind of commitment. Rather than a traditional or organized ceremony, we renewed our vows in our own personal ritual on the beach with antique rings we picked up in a little shop in Monterey, CA. Ready for new direction and adventure, we pledged ourselves to that end. In some ways, it felt like the most significant commitment to date, since we brought with us maturity and experience. So with new zeal, off we went—a little further into the unknown.
After 5 years of creating something we thought we could live with, we decided to re-up once again, and so wrote a song and story called Uncommon Promise that reflected our new agreement. We basked in the excitement of the “unpredictable process,” and we were both willing to stick with it and await the results. To celebrate and express our excitement, we began posting our music and stories on our web site with the same name, Uncommon Promise.
Now, 5 more years down that adventure trail we’ve arrived at another crossroads where the following questions and thoughts have appeared: Shall we continue? Perhaps it’s time for some more individualized pioneering. Or should we scrap it all and begin again with something outlandish that would surprise even us? After much conversation and reflection, we decided that something more peaceful and mellow seemed appropriate—take the best from the past 10 years, add some unexpected new twists, and sprinkle it all with a little magic dust!
With renewed enthusiasm, we wrote another story and song called I Found You. Not only did we initially find each other some 40 years ago, but we continue to rediscover each other in the midst of our everyday life. Now we ask ourselves: What is the nature of our commitments? What power and possibilities sleep within our familiar patterns? We believe that through relationships, we get the chance to glimpse the power of love. Our re-commitment is stronger than ever and we’re geared up and ready for the next challenge—whatever that may be.
You might say . . . we were just committed!