Celebrating Commitment: Netzach in Chesed
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Tonight begins the 4th Day of the Omer (Arpil 23-24, 2008).
May that part of me that is broken in Netzach in Chesed be healed on this day.
Netzach means enduring, forever, eternity, and even victory. In the context of this first week, chesed, lovingkindness, love-in-commitment, is calling us to experience the joy that can come out of commitment, particularly long-term commitments. It's the opposite of ambivalence. It's the opposite of:
- I wish I had a better job
- I wish I had better friends
- I wish I had a better partner
So often our culture frames long-term commitments/relationships as confining. Netzach in Chesed is asking us to see such commitments and relationships as expansive, freeing, joyful, and nourishing.
The following micro-practices have helped me try to develop the ability to ward off ambivalence and embrace long-term connection:
- Follow through on appointments, only reschedule for true emergencies.
- Turn off or ignore my cell phone when I'm in a conversation.
- Be on time.
- Not second-guess myself after I've made decisions.
- Embrace fulfilling of obligations, even when I know the decision to make that obligation was a poor one.
Just because I'm writing this doesn't mean I'm successful at the items on this list... especially being on time.
How do these "micro-practices" relate to the bigger issue of long-term commitment? I think it is that they inculcate a stance of submission. Our egos and frontal lobes are constantly trying to take charge, get control, improve the situation. But our egos and frontal lobes actually have a skewed perspective on things, and that perspective doesn't always serve us.
Submission actually leads to more freedom because it lightens our burden (fewer decisions to make). Ambivalence is debilitating. Submission is liberating. The caveat is that this submission is never a replacement for our autonomy or our responsibility. However, given all the energy submission frees up, hopefully we can be stronger and more alert to when rebelling is needed and submitting is toxic.
Pirkei Avot (tractate of the Mishnah, circa 200 C.E), teaches "Who is wealthy? The person who rejoices in her portion."
On this day of Netach in Chesed, may I learn to celebrate all of my commitments.