I remember when I was about 25 or 26 years old and a close family member promised he would get me Hank Aaron’s autograph. For those of you who don’t know who Hank Aaron is, it would be to be to simplistic to call him the best baseball player ever. It would be simplistic, yet true, to call him the greatest baseball ever to play the game. It would be fair to say that everything that occurred in baseball happened to set the stage for the moment he debuted in 1954 and has gone steadily downhill since he retired in 1976. Between his legendary play on the baseball field and his philanthropic work of it, he is truly a god among men. The only comparison that can be made comparing any current baseball player to Hank Aaron without overdosing on hyperbole is a statement like “so and so is as tall as Hank Aaron”
Naturally as a lifelong baseball fan this was the coolest thing that could happen to me. I was already comparing it to my first game I saw live where I got to see my hero, Carl Yastzermski, retire . For the next two weeks the person who telling me and everyone who would listen the look on my face when he made the promise to get me the autograph was something he would never forget and people involved in those conversations would inevitably comment how lucky I was to have such a person in my life. Weeks turned to months and months nearly became half a year. I then decided to gently reminded this person , about his promise.
“Here is the address of my friend at Coca- Cola maybe he can help you but don’t be too pushy because he is very busy and he might not be able to get it for you even if wants.” Right then I had wished I had a videotape of this moment to show how lucky I was and show it to all the people who told me this. Actually I wanted to cry.
That anecdote aside the greatest promise faker in my life is me. It is weird because when I deal with other people I rarely promise anything. When I do find myself about to promise something it is usually a very anxious period for me because if I fail, someone gets hurt, and I have failed and people have gotten hurt. Usually I use “I will try my best” and then actually try my best.
However when it comes to making promises to me, it ends up being a different story. Quitting smoking, losing weight, getting more exercise all have fallen victim to self promises. No part of my life has been no more greatly wrecked than my writing.
Every time I promise myself I will write 500 words a day. Not that much if you think about it. Part 1 was5 700 words and up to this point is exactly 1158 words ( I didn’t just type it all out and then check the word counter, these aren’t the droids you are looking for , move along) and every time that promise succumbs to a whole barrage of excuses, real life crises and the need to sleep . It lasts about three blogs before 500 words become 250 words that becomes writing comments on other peoples and finally end up avoiding the interweb all together. Much to my relief this is blog number four. It means something even if it is a small victory.
This small victory, is of course , important. Because each time you fail to deliver on a promise to you end up a little weaker and your life a little more damaged than before. And fulfilling one extra promise a day makes your life that much better. It focuses you, it helps you accomplish goals and it improves your chance of overall success in life.
One promise I made to myself, the one I have made the most excuses for not completing , has been to write my great American novel. Something akin to St. Elmo’s Fire but not nearly as obnoxious. For me it will be a thank you to the people who should have given up on me long ago and never did and my “J’accuse!”for the people who earned at . So now I have made this promise, there is no more turning back and no more excuses. This is a book that will give Generation X its voice and secure its spot in history that it has long been denied.
I take a look at the list of promises that will need to be kept in order to make it possible. It is beautiful and daunting all at the same time. There are parts of it I fear and parts of it I relish the opportunity to be successful and fear what failure will bring. As I end this the last stanza of a poem I heard so long ago when I was a person so different than I am now comes into my mind:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.