Doing what you say you're going to do.
This week has been almost entirely occupied with lying in bed. I sat down to do my Yiddish homework last Sunday morning, and when I stood up again I was crooked, and after a very busy day (Yiddish class, rehearsal, singing student, painting practice, a nice shmues with Rudy) I could no longer sustain the upright position.
(I discovered, though, that I can write Yiddish homework lying down, as long as I use a mechanical pencil. I'm trying to cram as much as I can, so I will truly be an "Intermediate" student when I get to the Medem Immersion program in July.)
All this resting must end at 4:30 today, when I leave with Bob to do a gig in Winston-Salem.
In the mean time, I type in a reclining position...
Here is the fundamental tenet of my life. To be a good person, do what you say you're going to do.
It sounds so easy and yet so few people care enough to come up to the mark.
Some people barely notice when they make commitments. For them, a commitment is a casual expression indicating that, at that particular moment, the person who makes the vow (1) would LIKE to do the promised thing, or (2) is acknowledging that it SHOULD be done.
Or (3) perhaps the promiser simply wants to make the promisee happy. Make the promise - then, well, when the time comes, maybe, maybe not, whatever.
Promises made idly only postpone pain. Yes, you disappoint the promisee now if you say "I can't do this" - but you disappoint the promisee later if you say you you'll do it and then don't. How is that better?
I know a guy who's spent decades hiding behind telephone poles as he walks down the street to avoid the people he passes - he lives in a small town where he's failed to deliver on a promise to almost everyone he knows.
If you make casual promises, you weaken your "vow muscle." It's like going on a diet every other week. How can you be taken seriously?
I writhe in discomfort when a movie character solemnly swears: "I'll never let anything happen to you." How can a person keep a promise like that?
This is what I told Zed yesterday, when he was feeling overwhelmed by the gap between what he plans for each day and what actually takes place: promise yourself less, but deliver.
I got an astrological reading once from Stephen Forrest, whom I had never met previously. He said: "you have a medieval attitude toward vows." Is that bad?