Close up Hands Tea x

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

Promises, promises

“How do you keep an idiot in suspense?”  That’s the way the old joke goes. 

And ends. 

Nothing else.  Just a question asked.

And never answered.

Sometimes, I feel like the butt of that joke.  I’d say epitome, but when it happens I don’t feel like an epitome.  I feel like the large, rather embarrassed looking backside of a baboon. 

“Never make a promise you cannot keep”.  Didn’t Thumper’s mother give that advice?  I know I’m a big fan of her “If you can’t say something nice…” so, maybe I’m giving all the good advice credit to her now.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s still good advice. 

Since September, I’ve collected promises in piles like leaves on the curb, ready for trash service.  That’s probably how I should view them, too – empty, dried up and suitable for throwing out.  But I can’t.  Like a little kid pressing fall foliage between sheets of wax paper to capture the beauty of autumn… I collect words and I treasure them.  I want to believe.  Not just in the promises, but in the people who made them.

From simple promises such as lunch on Friday (six Fridays ago, not that I’m counting); to more serious matters of business (after all, I have a house to save); or business of the heart (you know who you are)… I have been hanging by a thread made entirely of words and I am not sure how much longer I can hold on.

Lest you think I’m gullible (stop looking, that is NOT my picture in the dictionary), I know that words are bait I don’t necessarily have to take.  Oh, but promises aren’t just any words.  More often than not, they are spun confections that sound so sweet and tantalizing, that even the strongest and savviest among us are taken in by them (Ponzi, anyone?).  Sometimes, the words don’t even need to be said aloud, just the hint of promise can lure one in as though standing before the witch’s delectable looking cottage in Hansel and Gretel (May-December, anyone?).  So, don’t judge too harshly when I say I get suckered into believing things that never come to pass.

A lot of times, promises aren’t kept simply because the Promisee is out of the line of vision of the Promisor.  Out of sight = out of mind.  It happens.

When it does happen you are often left with a junk drawer of emotions.  I’ve watched people deal with broken promises in a variety of ways — from sorrow, anger and self-pity to understanding, compassion and occasionally indifference.  Myself, I fall somewhere in the cracks of the many emotions, depending on who made the promise.

Sometimes, a promise will fall out of someone’s mouth in a moment of excitement or good intention and then the words just vaporize.  As one who must cart around her paper memory at all times (I’m an analog girl in a digital world and love my notebooks & pencils), I know full well that if I don’t write down the promises I make, then I’m the one guilty of breaking my word and I hate it when that happens.

Even Friedrich Nietzsche, who as a rule sat around and thought about really big things, said, “One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises that one makes.”  There is also a much more colorful German proverb (that his Grandma probably told him) that says, “Promises are like the full moon, if they are not kept at once, they diminish day by day.” 

Norman Vincent Peale actually put it best of when he said, “Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once.”  Therefore, I solemnly (pinky) swear to do my best to follow through when I give you my word. 

Promise me, you’ll do the same?

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