“Yeah, of course. I’ll call you this weekend.”
You smile a little to yourself, pleased that you and Cool Person will finally get the chance to hang out and that you’ll certainly be getting out of your apartment this weekend. When your pool friends ask how your weekend went, you’ll respond, “It was great!” instead of the usual forced smile and half-shrug with “I just relaxed, watched some TV, caught a breather” when you know damn well that you’ve been taking that breather for quite some time.
So you keep your phone a little closer all week, but it refuses to buzz. You send an innocuous text on Thursday afternoon of: “Hey! So, what are you thinking for the weekend?” No buzz. Not wanting to be a pain in the ass, you wait. It isn’t until Sunday afternoon that you give up and throw some pizza bites in the oven.
Okay, I get it. Friday afternoon at the office gets busy, you get dragged out to a bar for a few drinks, and when you get home a bit too late, collapsing sounds like the best thing in the world. Saturday whirls by in the haze of a hangover and unfinished laundry. Sunday is catch-up day on the work you didn’t finish the previous week and prep-time for the upcoming presentation. By now, it’s too late, so you continue to have forgotten and say nothing to the person to whom you made a commitment. They’ll understand.
Things slip past. It happens.
It happens often.
It happens too often.
Mindful Speech typically asks that we speak with compassion and understanding, that we refrain from gossip and hateful comments, and so forth. From Wise Mind comes Wise Speech and Wise Action and … simply, pay attention to what you say because it affects other people, and it affects you. Of course gossip and bullying and general ugliness fall squarely into the no-no category.
Commitments are less discussed. I suspect that the focus on impermanence and accepting the present take priority. Accepting change and keeping commitments, while not incommensurable goals by any means, can be a bit difficult to digest in the same meal, and acceptance tends to be the more useful lesson for enlightment-seekers. (Or us poor buggers who just want to get through the day without a meltdown.)
BUT PEOPLE WHO DON’T KEEP THEIR WORD ARE DRIVING ME A LITTLE BONKERS AT THE MOMENT.
(Yes, yes. Accept things as they are, not how you’d like them to be. I know. Shush. I’m working on it.)
That doesn’t mean that I can’t give the world–or at least however few people stumble across this blog–a little lecture. And once more, I fully support the river mindset: go with the tides.
BUT. That doesn’t mean that I’m being skillful or kind if I tell someone that I’m going to do something and then I don’t do it. It’s hurtful. It’s misleading. We all forget, and we all make mistakes. That’s why we do the whole acceptance thing, to have compassion and understanding for others’ flakiness.
When we speak, we set an intention. Ideally, we set our *best* intention. What good are we managing when we drop that intention to do the laundry?
Imagine your friend promised that you’d hang out on Saturday. Same opening scenario: you sit and wait for the phone to buzz. It isn’t buzzing. Immediately the thought arises: ‘did they forget about me?’ Then: ‘they forgot about me.’ And on it goes: ‘Why would they forget about me? I’m sure something just came up. But why weren’t our plans registering strongly enough for them to at least send a text letting me know they got hung up? I must not be important, must not be that high on the priority list. Shit. This is happening again. Someone else is forgetting about me. God I’m so useless. Why do I bother reaching out or making friends if they simply forget about me? … I wonder if anyone would notice if I disappeared.’
When someone’s brain likes to terrorize them on an hourly basis and loves taking overtime *cough like mine cough*, the thought patterns get very dark very quickly. Yes, this is what some would call a “personal problem.” It’s not your problem to fix. But perhaps it would be kind to commit only to actions you intend to take.
In order to avoid sounding overly Finger Pointy, I’ll say this in the first person, because I’m not perfect, either. If I tell someone I will call, I will call. If I tell someone I will go to the office party with them, I will go to the office party with them. If I tell someone that I will keep my phone nearby in case they need someone during a tough time, I will keep my phone nearby. If I tell someone that I will be there for them no matter what, I will be there for them no matter what.
Mindful Speech is not simply speaking with a kind understanding. It contains an intention in the same way as action and effort, and that intention–given that it’s not a shit intention–would be best honored if carried out. Our kindest words are the words we keep.
So, between you and me, let’s try to do that, okay?
For the Love of Metta,