by Jake Block
I long ago learned not to count on others to come through with anything they promise. People promise. People want. People expect. But you’re a damned fool if you just take them at their word, because those are simply things that people do, and whether they mean what they say at the time, followthrough is rare, and something that you get to appreciate and recognize as a very positive and enhancing thing for any business of personal relationship. You keep those you can count on, even if only marginally, closer than you do others, and those rare and beautiful birds that are consistently true to their word are those who you let into your closest circles. Trust earns them that closeness.
We all know of people who will promise you the world in times of need (THEIRS), or in times of high emotion, when the endorphins are flowing or they’re highly adrenalized in times of fear, stress or physicality. Some promise you the world to get you to buy into their ideas, plans or schemes. Some simply do it to curry favor, being toady just to matter to someone in a world where they actually matter to few, if any. And we all know of people who seem eternally vexed by the inconveniences and sometimes financial drains of those whose word they trust, even though they’ve been stung by those same people over and over again. When they raise their eyes to the sky and ask, “Why did they do this to me again,” it makes you want to counter their exasperation with, “Well, what the hell did you expect?”
Albert Einstein is credited as saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We all know that Einstein was a smart man… relatively. But I think that people, normally being optimistically inclined until attitudinally adjusted by a well placed kick in the ass, seem somehow unable to see the value in approaching other people’s promises pessimistically until proven wrong. This would save them a great deal of angst and disappointment, in the long run. Optimism is like a sexual pheromone to those who use their promise to prey upon the gullible and weak. But consider… banks don’t loan money without collateral, even to their steadiest of customers, and they always charge interest. Why? Because they know that a verbal promise to repay them isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, and unless they add penalties for failure for the lender to make good on his commitment to repay, they would go out of business.
I’ve been burned before… more than once… so I know that there’s always the temptation to give people the benefit of the doubt when they weave their tale of woe and ask you for help, or lend their support to whatever cause or project that you’re involved in. But when they promise me some practical support in the form of personal effort or payment for something that they want me to provide, well… I’m just not inclined to be optimistic. “Once bitten, twice shy,” as the saying goes. Still, there are those who will press me to trust and to set aside my misgivings that they will, for once in their lives, fulfill their pledge and prove me wrong. I’d really like to believe them… I live in hope, that I will see it happen one day, but I’m not counting on it!