Words, wires, and worms

Figs and Promises

I can count on this promise.

I can count on this promise.

My fig tree always keeps its promises.

Sometimes I break promises. Not intentionally. My intentions are to keep any promise I make.

Nevertheless, on occasion my intentions slip away from me.

I wait too long to pick the figs.

Maybe I pick the figs but don’t make the jam or freeze the fruit before the figs develop a second coat of fuzz and collapse into brown fermenting mush.

Then, for completely unreliable, there are years when the weeks of fig laden drooping branches fall off my calendar before I pick a single fig.

I can count on the fig tree. It can’t always count on me.

To be fair, I have a lot more going on than my fig tree and its fruit. Yet this spread-thin life that leads to broken promises bugs me. Promises, like deadlines, suffer a lexical erosion when we pile our days high but spread ourselves thin. This is a trend in many work environments and, to me, the trend feels infectious.

I don’t want the trend to spill into the pool of promises I make to friends, family, and myself. So this is my checklist for personal and friendly promises.

Making a promise
  • Be thoughtful. In other words, avoid hasty promises, whether to a friend, to a colleague, or to yourself.
  • Be realistic. Part of the thoughtfulness includes a reality check. If your promise involves time, check your calendar. If it involves money, check your wallet. If it involves your physical and emotional energy, check in with yourself. Avoid making promises you know you can’t keep. Being that can-do hero is not always prudent.
  • Do your best. If you make a promise, do your best to keep it.  Suddenly in over your head? Having a change of heart? I don’t advocate the hell or high water route. Sometimes the best we can do is circle back to reevaluate, redefine, or, if necessary, retract a promise.
Oops! The birds ate all of the figs before you picked a single one. What now?
  • Be honest. If you can’t keep the promise, admit it. Everyone at some point in life has to bail on something for some reason. The key to right relationship in those situations is not the goodness or badness of the reason, but the communication. Let anyone else involved know. Sometimes the only person involved is you. Yes, be honest with yourself.
  • Be forgiving. If you’ve been thoughtful, realistic, and honest and you’ve done your best and it still doesn’t work out, the broken promise isn’t a lie. You stumbled and scraped a knee. Don’t rub salt into the wound.

Dear fig tree:

I am grateful for your deliciously extravagant promises and I know you will deliver. 

I hope to harvest gallons and gallons of your fruit, infuse my jams and sauces with their sweet complexity, freeze what I can’t jam into jars for the slower days. I can’t promise how much I’ll pick, how many jars I’ll can, or how many bags I’ll freeze. But I promise to do my best.

I’m looking forward to the next round of figs. If you’re looking for something creative and delicious to do with your figs, check out this guy. This recipe is very tasty.

Copyright © 2015 by Pennie Nichols, All Rights Reserved.
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3 responses

  1. When you’ve forgotten the figs remember that you’ve fed the birds and let nature take it’s course. It’s all good.

    Like

    March 21, 2015 at 11:54 am

    • That is one of my greatest consolations. 🙂 Whether I pick or not, the birds and the raccoons feast on figs in June.

      Like

      March 21, 2015 at 1:09 pm

  2. Pingback: A Pepper Apology | The Accidental Blogger

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