Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Promises, Promises

natural-pearlPromises can seem like an awful thing, if you really think about it.  Author Paul Coelho wrote, “In the first place, you shouldn’t believe in promises… Those who make promises they don’t keep end up powerless and frustrated, and exactly the fate awaits those who believe promises.”  Harsh words, when you consider one of the first things we typically believe early in life, are the words told to us.  Is it wrong to retain some belief in the promises made to us?

Do you remember the first time you were promised something that did not come true?  Perhaps it was something special you were told would come to pass on a birthday, holiday or special occasion.  When it didn’t happen, I know it didn’t feel very good.

As years went on did someone you adored, who held your heart, disappoint you with empty words of love?  A broken heart has to be some of the worst pain on the planet.

Did an admired teacher or mentor carelessly lead you to believe something that never came to pass?  Many of us hear those words echoing for years and years and allow it to shape how we think of ourselves (sometimes poorly).

Magic words and incantations are something we knowingly smile at when they are uttered by the woman bent over the cauldron or by the man with the rabbit peering out of his top hat.  Promises spoken in fairytales and movies we don’t usually have much trouble dismissing, yet we put great weight behind the collection of vowels and consonants that fall out of the mouths of people we know, those mere mortals.

Live long enough and you eventually reach a point where you forgive (or forget) the people that promise you things.  Sometimes, because you realize that you’re the one who doesn’t always follow through when you give your word.  Sometimes simple things fall through the cracks (lunch dates on the calendar, that don’t come to pass; items you meant to turn over or pass along, but for one reason or another don’t; information you mean to share, but forget).  Other times, truly important and often painful things get promised and never fulfilled (business introductions; contractual agreements; marriage/relationship vows; safety issues).  Promises are a mighty tricky business and should not be entered into lightly, but by the same token… they should also not be taken too seriously when you’re on the receiving end of them.

Learning to bounce back from broken promises is not always easy, but awfully important if you want to grow.  In my house, I am fond of reminding people that pearls aren’t created from beauty initially.  Pearls are created from irritants that make their way into the soft, delicate bed of the oyster.  Your heart is no different, but when something settles into it that is uncomfortable it’s hard to imagine that anything good will come of it.  It will.  It just takes time.  Trust me.

I could make a well-strung necklace out of the business and career promises made to me over the course of my life.  Managers, agents, producers and the like that were going to be presented to help me on my way… never happened.  Projects, positions and presentations… never transpired.

Sure, I cried when promises were broken (yes, I am a crier) and there was (Oh, who am I kidding, IS and probably always WILL BE) a great gnashing of teeth over what turned out to be empty words.  Reactions to broken promises range from anger, self-doubt, sadness, confusion and more.  Recovery time can go from a minutes to days to weeks, depending on the magnitude of the promise made.  Eventually, acceptance becomes part of the process and self-assessment takes over.  What can I do to help myself, since whatever someone else was offering didn’t happen?  Then there is always the possibility of a much better outcome in our lives in the form of unanswered prayers (Honestly, I smile every single time I hear the words of Michael Bublé singing, “Cause I’m glad that you’re the one who got away” knowing that I probably dodged a pretty significant bullet when one suitor traded me in for an incredibly frothy artificially sweetened bubble).

A while back, I made myself a paper list of promises to myself.  An inventory of the things in life that matter to me and non-negotiable items that I would like to have, see or do in my life.  I also made a commitment to myself that I would work as hard as possible to accomplish these things myself.  This way, if someone comes along holding a damp paper sack of promises (which makes it easier for them to fall out at some point), I can tell myself that it would be nice if these words transpired into reality, but if they don’t I will still have the contract I made with myself… and I am a woman of my word.  No harm, no foul.

If along the way, I ever make a promise to you and it somehow falls out of the soggy satchel that is my memory – then, I suggest you shoot me an email and we patch that up right away.  After all, I’d like to keep my pointy black hat and perhaps keep a bit of magic alive in the words that come out of my mouth.  Johann Wolfgang von Geothe said, “Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”  I can only promise that I’ll try.

xo – t.

“Promises are like the full moon, if they are not kept at once they diminish day by day.” – German Proverb

“Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.” – John Lennon

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Leave a Reply