Promises, Promises
"But you said...."

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     We are held to our promises, regardless of when, or where, or under what circumstances, the promise was actually made, or inferred, or even imagined by somebody.  Often, what others deem as, "promises", are nothing but imagined plans of action by other people, of whom, may or may Not have even been a witness to the actions of which they are evaluating.    The Third dimension is a world of subjectivity where one's personal opinion in worth more than their, soul urge, happens to be at the time.   TIME is the key to it all because to the 3-D'er, time is a very important part of life's equation for happiness. You must be here or there by a specified time or you are not meeting your goals.  We consider what we want to spend our lives doing, based on no experience at all. For the most part none of us at an early enough age recognize that we want to do anything at all except be firemen, or nurses. However as we grow and pick up the clues that being what you wanted to be, may be a bit more difficult than you first imagined. After all, what do you have to rely upon?  You are young, and inexperienced and when somebody says something, then that means they meant it and it applies for ever.   You are trusting but naive in thinking that anything said, applies for longer than the moment in which it was said.
   When one is a child, one supposes that what ever is said, is the gospel truth and not ever very subject to change in any way.  They assume that the person who said what they said, is outlining the right path to take for everybody in the same situation.  They do not take into account that time moves on and with it, the seeds of yesterday shape the new tomorrow so everything is in the process of changing all around us at every second of our existence. Things, that we never dreamed of coming our way may happen to us in the next 24 hours and we will be totally unprepared for it and at mercy to the situation.  When one has enough time to be disappointed for sufficient periods and over sufficient venues of endeavor, then it is not impossible to assume the person in turmoil is also learning valuable experiences and gaining a better database from which to work and expound their truths to their loved ones. Every experience we encounter changes us a little bit as we learn and grow and make our way through life. When i was a child spinning in an old tire swing was a great joy for me, but that was the 5 year old me with only fife years of experience to draw from and spinning my self dizzy in an old tire was one of the really good times i could have for free. Today, sixty two years later, i would no more consider a spin on a tire swing anything other than a good way to induce vomiting and not much fun at all. I have seen a lot and experienced a lot and learned a lot in those 62 years from my fife year old self to my 67 year old self and the tastes i had as a child are not the same as i favor today. My point here is that people and times and situations change constantly, and what may have been said at one point in time, does not necessarily apply to every and all times because everything shifts and situations change. What was valid at one point in time may not be appropriate for a similar situation in the future, when attitudes and ways may be different.
     When our girls were growing up, one of the most frequently employed excuse they used to use to explain getting caught doing something we did not approve of was, "But you said....", and they would go on to explain how a few years ago we let them do this for a special occasion or other, so being children they assumed what was said in the past, applies to all time, even though things were different in the present than they were when the statement may have been made.  People, especially children tend to read into things what they want to hear and often misinterpret situations in their favor. The speaker may not be aware that their audience is missing the point completely and misinterpreting what they are saying to be more agreeable with them.  When dealing with people, we treat them by OUR rules and not theirs, so this puts a different spin on things and knocks the view points a bit off target.  Not being inside the other's head, we only have our own experiences and convictions to go by when "judging others", which is a good argument against judging others, or anything for that matter. We can only compare things to ourselves, so what we say or do is open to misinterpretation at any time by the biases of the listener. We can hurt somebody's feelings without even knowing we did it and would never intentionally do anything like that, however the feelings were still hurt.  We can say things that are interpreted as Promises, but were nothing more than casual observations to us when we made the statements.  Kids never forget, and if you tell them it is Ok to do something, then you had better look out because to them you have just given a lifetime permission, not only for this one act, but any others that come close to this situation in the future as well.   I used to marvel at all the "Promises" that my kids have told me i made in the past.  I may have done nothing more that Not say "no", to them and they would take that as a promise that i said, "Yes.", after being passed through their personal "filters".   I guess their logic would have gone something like this, "Gee, he didn't say no, so he must mean YES." And with nothing more than that to work with, they deduce that i made a Promise of some sort that they could do what ever it was at the time and for all times after that.   
     This sort of implied promise is difficult enough to deal with even though it is based on faulty information and inaccurate interpretation. The Promise was never actually made but to the eyes of the kids, or adults in some cases, promises were made and the speaker is expected to live up to them forever, whether or not he/she is even aware of the situation. But how about times when permissions or approvals were given? Now the speaker has actually made some sort of commitment to the situation and given approval to the act. However we are getting into tricky ground now because when the approval was given, everything that was known about the situation said that it was OK to proceed, so an agreement to do this or that is given.  How long is this 'promise' good for?  Does it hold valid for all time?  Is it only for a year or two, or a few months, or maybe only a week, or a day?  If situations change daily, and we learn and grow daily, and the world around us alters it's thinking as normal events in our lives shape and mold us into something that we were not, a while ago.  I might say to my friend on the telephone, "Gee, i am hungry enough to eat a horse.".   Then i might go get myself something to eat.   My friend may then come to visit me bringing with him a couple of hamburger thinking that he is doing something nice for me, only to be disappointed that i cannot eat another bite.  He may respond with something like, "But you said... you were hungry, so i bought you something and now you don't want to eat it."   What we say may strongly apply to the moment that we said it, but the farther we drift from that point in time, the less valid the statement could become.   I can't even keep agreements with myself at times.  For example, i tell myself that after i finish my work, i will watch a couple of movies on television.  I breeze through my work thinking of the promise of some relaxed entertainment when i am done and when i finally sit down to watch the show, i fall asleep in the chair.   Hey, what gives here?   I promised myself a show and all i got was a nap.   Times and situations change and people change and hearts are broken at times by changing relationships.  Plato wrote, "That which does not change stagnates.", change is part of life and as things change, so do attitudes and importance of outdated statements.  
     When somebody says, "I love you.", they may mean it from the bottom of their heart at the time, but if the relationship does not flourish and grow, this could change.  My goodness they even have laws called "breach of promise" that attempt to lock us into our agreements even though the conditions under which the statements were made, no longer exist and it becomes an empty statement without relevance to the current situation.   What the person should have said was "I love you at this moment in time, more than i can explain. I don't know if i will feel like this next year, or the year after, but right now, I Love You."
  The promise in the statement is for a point in time only and should not be assumed to be unchanging when everything else in the world changes around it.  They may even go so far as to propose marriage or make some life long commitment based on what they feel at that moment.  When somebody agrees to anything, it is only for that moment and for as long as the same situations that were prevalent at the time still are maintained, however when things change, then it effects all the "promises", implied or otherwise.  If the lover who is spilling out his heart goes through a period where the other partner is unfaithful, and abusive and the loving attentions that once prompted him/her to profess their love are replaced with deceit and dishonesty then they cannot be held to something that they said under entirely different situations.  In this case it may not even have been anything more than lust, mistaken for love, which is never a solid basis for any relationship.  Lust is based on good looks or sexy attitudes and when the good looks fade, and winkles replace the sexy appearance then if there is not true love in the relationship, it is over for that couple and either one or the other may "wander to sexier pastures".
   I would venture to say that virtually nobody who marries does so with the intention of not staying together.  Everybody says the same thing about their first marriage, "This is going to be for ever.".  Oh, yeah?  Who ever gave anybody that promise?  The answer is We All Have, if we took the wedding vows we made some heavy duty promises.  With all these promises going on all over the world, how does one account for all the divorces?   I think California is the worse for divorce rate with around 50% of all marriages failed. You get married in California and you only have a
50/50 chance of making it till your death with the same person you married.   I myself have been married three times.  I finally figured out what i was doing wrong, and now i am very happily married and we have grown so close together that we both know we will not part in this life time.
So where does that put me with those two broken promises?  When i vowed to do all the things in that wedding service i meant it with all my heart.  When ever i married, i thought it was going to be forever.  Things change, people change, the world changes every day and energies shift and swirls around us, tugging us this way and that way as we grow and learn our lessons.  As we grow, our thinking is altered, and our values shift, so things that we say today, should only be taken for granted at the time we said them.  Likewise, when somebody tells us something, give the guy a break and don't assume he/she meant it for eternity. Take care of the NOW, and when things change, then it may be time to discuss old promises and arrangements in favor of new ones that better suit the current arrangement of the universe.  Don't hold anybody to their word long after the word was given, unless you have reassurance from the person that things are still in agreement with the original statements.   Don't ever make anybody "Promise" anything, because the truth is you are putting them in a situation where they must adhere to the thoughts and mind set that they once held in the past, and abide by that forever, regardless of how the situation is altered they are held by a point in time that is rapidly and steadily retreating farther and farther into the past with every tick of the clock.   Want to be happier than you are now?  Ok, then don't make people promise you anything, you will never be disappointed by broken words that way, and you will be a lot happier, " I PROMISE ".
(hee hee)

JP Déry 08/28/2003


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