Sunday, November 19, 2006


Confession time. Mme Cyn is that rare bird, the female commitment-phobe. If you read the women’s magazines, you’ll find it’s apparently a common enough failing among the male of the species, but females? No. We women are supposed to be driven toward security and commitment. We are the ones who make plans, orchestrate lives, and generally keep society ticking over in an orderly, organized way, sweeping the menfolk along, getting them to agree to do things and then keeping them to it. Women love commitment, right?

In my mind, ‘commitment’ equals ‘trap,’ which should be avoided whenever possible. For example, I like my contract job in part because I know that my contract only lasts for three years at a time and I can leave at the end of that time should I want to. Or another example: I have never bought a house because I can’t commit to any one place on the planet. What if it’s an expensive mistake? What if I hate the climate? Besides, buy a house and you’re committed to making mortgage payments, whether you want to that month or not. Or this: I avoid planning weekends whenever I can. What if I want to do something else that day, or don’t feel particularly well? How can I know on Monday what I want to do on Friday?

Etymologically, to “decide” is to kill off the other options. Decision = commitment= no escape. You see my problem.

You may say “Simple. Change your mind.” Ah, but I can’t do that. My family, bless 'em, warped me. Once you make a commitment, you keep it, they said. Make a decision and then stick to it. The wishy-washy lack character. Do what you say you'll do, because others are relying on you. Parents. Sheesh. Still, it's an admirable way to live your life and raise your children, and you’d think it would have made me a very reliable person. It did – when anyone can actually get me to commit to anything. I avoid, delay, hem, haw, hedge…anything to keep from trapping myself into anything I may later regret having agreed to. Because once assumed, a responsibility cannot be shirked. Oh yeah, my folks did a number on me.

Now I’ve known about this character flaw of mine for many, many years, and I’ve learned to work around it. Why, then, do I bring it up now? Because I’m going to take a seven week diving vacation in high season and I have to plan it. And I can’t.

Not won’t. Can’t. Don’t get me wrong: this is something I want to do. I have suffered and sacrificed for it. I know it may well be my only chance to do anything like this in my entire life. It’s going to cost a bundle and I don’t care. I’ve been looking forward to it. But I cannot go to the travel agent, plunk down my money and buy plane tickets. It's so ... final. I know I want to start in Puerto Galera and include a course in Subic Bay, but that’s as far as I can get. I haven’t even chosen a definite start date yet – the best I can do is “mid-February”. Usually when I take a long trip, I book my flight out, my flight home, and my first hotel, and then I wing it. Once I ended up in Bratislava because I wanted to take a trip down the Danube and that was the only place I could get a ticket for at short notice. And I liked Bratislava. Could even buy a house there. Maybe.

But this time winging it won't work. First, I’m not traveling entirely alone: two different people are joining me for two different phases of the trip, and they need to get time off work. Both of these people have said that where they join me is up to me since they want to do it all and aren’t picky, so it’s not like I can use their desires as a starting point. Second, it’s high season in Indonesia and Malaysia, so if I go to a diving mecca like Sulawesi (or Sipadan, or Palau, or, or, or) I will have to have my room booked well in advance. Third are the internal flights in the PI and the inter-Asia flights to Sulawesi ( or Sipadan, or Palau, or, or, or). I can’t buy them here, but can't make myself do it online either. What if it doesn’t work? Or someone gets my credit card info and steals my identity? This then means waiting until I get to Manila, in which case it will be too late to get hotel rooms anywhere else during high season. And then I’m committed to staying in the Philippines. Trapped again.

Clearly I have to make my decisions and then stick to my plans. Once I’ve bought the tickets and made the reservations, there’s no going back. Commitment. Yuck.
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