Today the wind blows wickedly as if to challenge my request for colder weather, and I think of the carrot danglers, those who make promises they don’t keep. The proclamations can be tiny, almost insignificant, like, “I’ll call you right back,” times when I smile broadly, make a note on the calendar, wait by the phone. And when follow-through doesn’t come, my trust wilts. After each disappointment I believe less and less in what people say.
“It’s about them, not you,” others tell me, and I say, “That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if their intentions are real and pure. It makes me not believe their words and as a result I push these people away bit by bit.”
The cycle makes me feel ‘word literal,’ but I don’t know how else to process language. I don’t know how to live if words don’t have the meaning I’ve been taught they do.
Everyone these days is so overwhelmed, I hear, that promises now equal stated desires, intentions. Not following through is as much a disappointment to the promiser as the promised. But I don’t see it because, the thing is, I’m able to distinguish between “I’ll try” and “I will.” When I’m stretched, I know it.
The wind whistles down my chimney, joins me in my living room, moves the palm fronds. It creates a musical backdrop to my thoughts, offers an available deterrent to slipping into running shoes and taking a step outside.
I promised myself I would run first thing in the morning, and the clock already reads 11 a.m. with my running shoes still by the door. I promised myself I’d return to the shaky pages of my novel and push past doubt, but the novel file remains unopened.
So I do break promises, only they are promises I make to myself. And that’s terrible, tragic, because these are the promises I can control.
As I step away from judgment, I discover my greatest disappointment lies within, that I am no better than those who don’t honor words spoken to me. Through the years I’ve wallowed in pain by blaming those who haven’t come through, but the truth is that if I honored my pledges to self, I would care less about the broken promises of others. They would fall to the back of the line of things I’m waiting for.
As I walk towards my running shoes, I think of enduring the wind-whipping run, the action that tries to knock me over and push me back, the goal that challenges my resolve. This will become my touchstone, the way I will keep promises to myself.