In school, we teachers often encourage our students to be committed to the particular goals of a class or an assignment, but it might also be helpful to remind the students that un-commitment, or detachment, can be just as important. To use an analogy, if a basketball team is totally committed to using a particular strategy during a game, they might fail to notice when changed conditions in the game warrant a change in the strategy. They would be so focused on employing their prearranged plan that they might miss opportunities to make adjustments and better penetrate the opponent’s defense. Their complete commitment might actually be their demise. The same thing can happen to students. A writer might be so focused on following her outline for an essay that she fails to notice, as she’s writing, an exciting new direction she could take. Similarly, a reader might be so committed to finding out ‘what happens’ in a novel that he totally misses much of the beauty of the writing. It might be helpful, then, if we teachers encouraged our students to practice the art of detachment – the art, we might say, of pursuing goals but not being controlled by them.If they get the ‘A’ they have set their sights on, fine – but if they don’t, they must be able to free themselves – detach themselves – from that goal and notice the good results that came from the ‘B’. If they commit themselves to travel one road, excellent – but they must always be ready to take a different road if the conditions call for it. There may be a few gold coins at the end of one road, but there may be a treasure at the end of another.
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