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Commitment might set you free

Yesterday I was driving south on Highway 22 when three stout, multi-colored horses shot like rockets through the open gates of a ranch yard, zipped across the highway, slipped into the opposite ditch and galloped south along the fence line, followed closely by a tiny lady in a little red pickup truck that did exactly the same thing.

The sky was filled with clouds and a few rain drops fell here and there as the horses, smiling, enjoyed their newfound freedom and raised their noses in a mocking "you can't catch me" manner, while their long manes blew in the wind and the tiny lady in the little red pickup truck got slightly hung up and spun her smoking tires like a drag racer on the wet, green grass.

Seeing that she needed assistance, lest the horses end up vacationing in the Black Hills or maybe Houston, I sped ahead to a distance south of them, parked my big pickup truck off the highway, got out, strongly suggested that they turn around and head back towards the ranch gates and luckily they agreed.

By this time a couple of other vehicles had slowed to a stop, as the horses crossed the highway back to the other side, and then a grey SUV, who's driver was apparently paying little attention, entered the scene at NASCAR speeds and was on a clear collision course with the stopped vehicles.

Assuming that its driver was pre-occupied with sending a text message, in the process of being stung by a bee, had just awakened from a bad dream, spilled some coffee in his lap, or had just been slapped by his wife for making a sarcastic remark, (or all of the above), it was only a last second tug on the steering wheel that veered his vehicle off of its deadly course, causing it to slide sideways along the ditch, nearly roll over more than once and come to a stop mostly back on the highway ahead of the parked vehicles.

The horses, meanwhile, re-entered the gates to their friendly ranch and the tiny lady in the little red pickup truck, who'd eventually worked herself free from being hung up, had stepped out of her vehicle and crossed the highway on foot to help coax her horses through the gates or at least keep them from going too far north.

Then all of the stopped vehicles continued on their merry way, including the SUV driver with a now much faster heart rate, as the tiny lady walked across the highway again, slipped into her little red pickup truck, gased it, soared through the ditch, popped up onto the highway, scurried home and everything bad that could have happened never did; while each of us who was involved went from peace to chaos and back to peace again in the span of less than 10 minutes. Wow, isn't life interesting and can't things change rapidly?

The horses, now securely locked inside the ranch gates, appeared quite pleased with themselves and their little vacation adventure while at the same time looking a little sheepish as though they knew their escapade had eliminated any hope of receiving a hearty bowl of oats for dessert that day; and as though they had enjoyed the complete freedom momentarily, but wanted nothing of having it full time, which reminded me that we too can be much the same way and that might be good.

You see, when we have duties, obligations, commitments and responsibilities we tend to get bogged down, lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, become frightened, ignore the wonderful things along the way and work ourselves into a rut so deep that we can't see the top of a horse's ears when he's standing in the rut on his tip toes.

And yet, when we have complete freedom and no commitments we tend to lose a lot of our focus, determination, some relationships and the wonderful things along the way that spice up our lives like garlic and crushed red pepper does Italian cuisine. Thus, in a sense, commitment and obligations might be the key to what rockets you to a level of success and joy that complete freedom never could.

In fact, Vince Lombardi, the famous two-time Super Bowl winning coach of the Green Bay Packers once said, "When a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It's something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success."

Howard Thurman, author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader said, "Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve center of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies."

And James Womack, the biologist, author and professor said, "Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the right stuff to turn our dream into reality."

So don't be so afraid of all of those commitments, obligations and duties because, rather than bog you down, they might just set you free to be who it is you always thought you could be.