This I Promise You

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
-Yoda
If someone asked me to name some of my all time favorite movie lines this particular Star Wars saying would clock in at number two on Mary Anne’s list of epic movie quotations (a close second only to the Hospitaller’s religion speech in Kingdom of Heaven). In fact, I like this quote so much and am such a Star Wars nerd that I had this phrase engraved on the inside of my wedding band.
Really, if you think about it, it’s actually pretty good advice. If you are going to commit to someone or something do it whole heartedly or not at all. I mean is it really worth doing if you are going to do a half-assed job of it?
Marriage is kind of like that- all or nothing. You are either in or you are out. You can’t really be in a committed relationship while you are still sitting on the fence about whether you want to be in it or not. Combined with the promises you make to each other in a wedding ceremony I think this is what makes marriage, and the ending of a marriage, so difficult. It takes something very messy (aka relationships) and attempts to tame it into something black and white. Throw in the guilt you feel during a divorce over broken vows and viola! You end up with a marital Molotov Cocktail of remorse and shattered dreams. I am sad to say this is something I have obsessed about over the last few months.
I firmly believe a person is only as good as their word, that if you can’t trust someone to follow through with their promises, you can’t trust them at all. I am sure by now you can see my catch 22. 
On May 16, 2009 I made a very specific promise to love and cherish for all the rest of my days the man, who at the time, was my sun and moon and stars. For the last three and a half years the whole of my being has been focused on following through with that promise, and for the last three and a half years I have been frustrated beyond words that I was failing miserably at it. Now I find myself staring down into divorce’s beady little eyes and I find myself wondering “Did I really fail, or did society’s expectations fail me?”
As I’ve gotten older, and particularly in the last few months since I started the whole divorce process, I have come to view vows and the advent of marriage a lot differently. Society and popular opinion tend to romanticize marriage to an extreme. As a little girl I was bombarded with the message that you grow up, find your “prince”, have a fairy tale wedding and then live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that’s where the story ends. What they don’t show is the arguments over what channel to watch that night, Prince Charming getting pissed because Cinderella’s too tired after cleaning all day to put out, or cut throat negotiations over crock pots once the relationship ends. There is a lot of emphasis on “marriage is forever”, and maybe in an idealistic world this is possible, but in the real world the reality is that half of all marriages fail. What does this mean? It means fifty percent of Americans are breaking promises all the time, and now I have joined the club.
And let me tell you folks, that alone makes me feel pretty shitty. All I could think of for the first couple of weeks was “I am breaking promises to my husband, my family, my friends, hell, I am even breaking my promise to Yoda and he’s a fucking Jedi Master! I’m a horrible person…” However, I have since realized that maybe I am not a bad, untrustworthy person after all (Whew!), that maybe I just made an unrealistic vow and need to be more careful the next time. After all, how many people really know what they want for the rest of their life when they are 22 years old?
It is for this reason I find it slightly ironic that I am completing the breaking of one vow by making another one. This last weekend I committed myself to a full year of self reflection during the Three Cranes Grove Samhain ritual. While I don’t necessarily identify as pagan anymore, Three Cranes has always loved and accepted me with open arms and has become the closest thing I have to a religious family. As a result, I knew I wanted to make my vow in front of my Crane-kin. Since there is no bible to swear on (obviously) the Cranes use a blunted scythe instead. I am sure there is some meaning behind this tradition I am just not sure what it is. You can choose to make your vow by placing your hands on the scythe, OR you can choose to have it placed around your neck. I always say “Go big, or go home” so I made my promise while Mike, the grove priest, held it around my neck. I would like to say the whole thing went without a hitch, but in reality it went more like this…

Me: “On this day I commit myself until October 31st, 2013 to… *gag* geez Mike, ease up on the scythe you are choking me…”

Mike: “Well, this is serious business.”

Seamus (the other grove priest): “Yeah, and besides that’s too long of a phrase to be a good safety word.”

Me: “Oh, sorry. How’s this? BANANA! BANANA!”

Mike and Seamus: “Much better!”

Laughter ensued and then I finally got to finish my vow, which in its entirety is as follows-

“On this day I commit myself until October 31, 2013 to turn my focus inward and reflect upon the values necessary to further my development as a wise and compassionate human being. I also vow to document and share my journey in the hopes that it may inspire others to lead a more fulfilling life, as well as aid in their own personal development.”

So there, it’s official. I’m all in and there’s no turning back now. In a couple of days I start my year of adventures and self improvement. I have no idea what is in store or how any of it will turn out, however, I am starting to realize that maybe that is half the fun of undertaking something of this magnitude. It’s going to be a big project, and every once and awhile I find myself worried that I won’t be faithful to this vow either, but I know I have lots of friends who will kick my butt if I don’t follow through with it and that alone will help keep me on track. My hope is that when everything is said and done I can look back and say “I’ve done a lot of good work this year.”

Besides, the only other alternative is to crash and burn in a blaze of glory and I really don’t think I could bear to let Yoda down a second time…

Mike looks like he’s enjoying this way to much, and I am having second thoughts…

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One comment

  1. firewomanpg · November 12, 2012

    The sickle comes from the tradition that druids would use a golden sickle to harvest mistletoe. Well, it's referenced ONCE in Pliny, but it's what we got. I think we kind of independently-but-together in ADF started using sickles the way Asatru use oath rings to swear upon.

    Like

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