Thursday, March 12, 2009

Making the Cut

What do commitment and deciding have in common? They are both related to the need to choose among options in life. Commitment means making a choice to give up other choices.

Think of any type of commitment in life. Commitments involve deciding what is chosen and what is being left behind.

Here’s where it gets interesting, at least to me, because I like words. The word “decide” comes from a French word dating to the 1300s that literally means “to cut” or “to cut off.” Deciding is about coming to a point where something is cut off from something else. A part is chosen—hopefully the best part—and the illusion of hanging on to the whole, to everything, is given up.

In this way of thinking, commitment is counter cultural. The cultural messages we are inundated with encourage us to hang onto everything—to cut off no options, to have it all. Having a lot of options in life is great, but maybe not so great if one never decides what matters most.

[If you want to see the root of the word decide, check out a website such as]