Friday, September 29, 2006

But I Promised

On Wednesday evening I found myself so torn by wanting to continue my dinner and discussion with my good friend who is having a difficult week and having to leave to unlock the door of the space where my meditation group meets. I had received a call the day before from the owner of the treatment center about opening and I had promised her that I would be there with my key.

It was a gamble. Sometimes no one else shows up for meditation. But it was impossible to know if there would be 1 person or 6 or no one. My friend begged me to stay and my response was "But I promised."

I left the restaurant with just barely enough time to get to the meditation space on time if all the lights were green. Of course that never happens. So with a couple of interminable red lights, I arrived 2 minutes late.

Out front of the dark row house sat one person next to her bicycle. Upon seeing me, her face lit up and she said, "I am SO glad you showed up with the key."

I told her my story and she asked if I wished I could have just stayed with my friend. I admitted that to be the case and said, "But I promised to be here."

It was just the two of us in that wonderful calming space with its dark burgundy cushions, its low lighting, its single candle, and its soothing bell. My mind occasionally strayed to my friend who had walked home by herself. I felt grateful for the opportunity to still my mind and put my thoughts on hold for 35 minutes. I felt interested in the reading of the week, which focused on "non-doing," as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

I will continue to talk to my friend about the big decisions that loom in her life when and if she seeks my input. For now at least I will continue to open the door for Wednesday night meditation. I’m glad I was not the only one who showed up to meditate. Otherwise I would have felt really cheated.

A promise still holds a lot of power over me. But sometimes promises and desires are in conflict.

How about you? Have you experienced this tug-of-war?


Blogger Kristin said...

I frequently feel bound by obligation. Sometimes I think I'm missing out on something but more often than not, I find myself in the middle of an experience that I just might have skipped if not for that sense of duty. It's a fine line.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Well, next time take that person with you-then you can continue the conversation outside of the meditation area.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Yes, but I always honour my word. To a ridiculous degree actually. I take commitment too seriously. Heck, I even feel bad telling store clerks that I'll be back, or might be back and then don't! What do they care?!
But it is what I'm like and when it is important to others, I always pull through, they can count on me, and they appreciate that.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- It is a fine line, but so far I have come down on the side of commitment invariably.

OL -- You are absolutely right. I should have just suggested that she go to meditation with me. We would have had a few minutes in the car and then 35 minutes to just sit. Why didn't I think of that?

MOI -- I always had the sense that you could be counted on. I guess I'm with you in that I want others to always consider me to be dependable. For me too that's important. I consider promises almost to be sacred!

5:24 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

On occaision I have been torn between staying with someone I like or having to meet someone else.

I always keep my word and, although, I do try to avoid such conflicts. I prefer to simply have only one commitment at a time.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- I agree with you about the one commitment at a time, but unfortunately sometimes commitments collide!

9:10 AM  

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