Friday, February 13, 2009

Committing Time

I’m recruiting new members to a non-profit board I’m on.

The process is a slow dance.

I invite my fellow board members to offer names of prospective candidates. Often this involves sending out “feelers” to see who’s interested.

Think, “dance card.”

Once the board agrees to the list (oh so easy!), I volunteer to make the invitation to the chosen. (Don’t ask why I volunteer, that comes later.)

The dance continues; the music changes.

I approach one person we’ve agreed on. Call him “Fred.”

I know Fred fairly well so I call to offer the invitation over the phone. I am met with: “Let’s sit down and talk about the time commitment.”

Fair enough. I can talk about time commitment easily enough, but why the “sitting down to talk” part?

Now THAT’S time commitment.

I don’t say it to Fred, but if he wants to hear about time commitment, I can do that on the phone and in one sentence. The commitment is two or three hours a month…unless you take on the task of recruiting board members and sitting down to talk about time commitment.

Anyway, I will have coffee with Fred to talk. It’s a pleasant task. I like coffee. I like Fred.

Still, it is an ironic time commitment.

And here a little inner voice says: LIFE is a time commitment.

OK, I say to the voice: To whom?

“Well,” says the voice, “if you were of a theistic mind, I’d pop in the all-purpose ‘God’ and be done with it.

“But because I am actually your own inner voice and, hence, presumably know you well (a BIG presumption), I’ll offer a tidy circular answer:

“You’ve made a ‘time commitment’ to life.

“Look around. At its most primitive, life — survival — demands a ‘time commitment’ to food, clothing, shelter. When you ‘free’ time (an odd, but valid concept), you commit it to other living organisms around us. Plants, animals, blog readers and Fred.

Reviewing this little exchange, the key term seems to be “freeing time,” which translates into “freeing life.”

In a word: Freedom.

Time commitments aren’t the question. Those are given. The question is what do we freely commit our time to.

It’s no small question. Come to think of it, it’s why Fred wanted to have coffee.

Wise man, that Fred. I hope I can get him on the board.

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