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Their Promise, Void

Sitting down with their faces towards a window, or a wall, or the ceiling, or the floor - none of the matter because no attention is being paid to what goes in through their eyes - they are thinking about a promise that seems to have been broken. The nature of this promise is a bit difficult to describe, it having a somewhat omnipresent nature – this promise might have never been spoken at all, or it might have been present in every single utterance of the world surrounding them. Have the apricot blossoms ever muttered “I promise I will come back next spring.”? The fact that they always have feels stronger than the words they fail to pronounce.

But who are they, anyway? Well, I do not know their names, but it is none of the matter. I suppose they are individuals, but in a group of people every single one person could be one of them without any of them knowing. Or they might even know, it could even be a bond they share. It is still, none of the matter, the point is that they are people. I also do not know how many there are, or where they live. They, as much as two or as little as a couple of billions, from wherever they find themselves to be, stare into the distance and think about this promise.

What is the promise, anyway? Well, because of its nature of being all-encompassing or being completely unreal, the details of this promise are hard to explain. But maybe its essence is easier to grasp. Imagine a fountain. What this fountain you imagine looks like is unimportant, so take any freedoms you will with its image. The only thing you must bear in mind is that this fountain gives abundant water, constantly. It always has, and it always will. The water this fountain gives is also supposed to be more enjoyable with the passing of time – that is, as one grows older one is more likely to experience the water as being more refreshing, even purer of taste. It is not fully clear whether it is the fact that being older and wiser simply makes the water feel better, or if the water is actually, physically, different. Regardless, this fountain is wonderous not only because of the abundance of water, but because as they grow, they are able to enjoy it even more. That is the essence of the promise – the fountain will not cease to offer water, and this water in turn will become richer, more flavourful, more refreshing. Of course, you can think this is an impossibly out-of-reach promise, and of course you could also think that on the contrary this is a very understandable promise to believe in. What you think about the feasibility of this promise or how worthwhile it could even be, might say something about your own relationship with the promise – which you probably have heard if you’ve been anywhere, and also nowhere – but it is not really important to them. Not to undermine your thoughts, but the troubles that go through their head cannot easily be appeased, and other what others think about the promise usually ends up by adding to the discomfort. Because a promise that is believed in before a person is able to distinguish reality from fantasy has time to grow its roots inside the mind and the heart, regardless of what unknown others might have to say about it later on. The person they have grown to be, then, is unlikely to have any sort of future that is not impacted by the outcome of that promise. It could be kept, every single word becoming true and then the ever sweeter, the childhood dream has become true. Or it could be broken, and then the roots that are wrapped tightly around every corner of the soul could be ripped out, tearing the surfaces they had clutched to. When the promise is not kept, what is left broken is the person that held it as its northern star, the purpose to guide them.

But now, they are left staring at the window or the wall or the ceiling or the floor. The promise, the fountain from which so much water had once flowed, so abundant and so giving, seemed to only have a few drops left within it, trickling down in ever longer intervals. What had made the promise so wonderful, the nature that would make it possible for them to continuously receive what the fountain would give them, seemed to have been false all along. They were unsure whether this was happening already, materially a part of reality, or if it was bound to happen and the anticipation made them only see that. Some, with more or less effort than others, by squinting a bit or shifting the angle of their head – sometimes turning it all the way back –, could lie to themselves that, not only was it not happening currently but that it was also not necessarily the only thing the future held for them. Everything was as they wanted, unthreatened, for them as they had seen it be for others. This lying is helped by the fact that it is not hard to believe that something that had always seemed so possible – palpable – and at the same time so wonderous could also continue to just be so. After all, if it had lasted for so long that so many could only understand as far back as it reached, any further being in what seemed a brutish language, hard to understand but also repelling.

However, not everyone can convince themselves of a lie like that, and so they – some, all – can only see how it is, will, only trickling a few miserable drops, each of them a reminder of a broken promise, a betrayal of trust. This is heart breaking, and it can also be an already broken heart. It is heart breaking that the glimmer the promise had formed around them had partially or entirely fallen apart, revealing that what they heard was only an echo – something that had been said to other people, and what reached them was only the ricochet. The words of the promise had never been meant for them, its essence enjoyed by others very close by, but still others. Some might believe that they were promised something, and it was not an echo at all but something that had really been said for their ears. They could be totally sure, remembering the dear face that had looked them in the eyes, held them by the shoulders, and spoken the words. Cruel of the others that said this, knowing it was unreal. And if they did not know? Cruel of someone else. Cruel of those living in it, spending it away in front of their eyes, telling them to live as if they would enjoy the same fountain the others had, while changing it into an empty statue.

How is it a broken heart though? Well, they could have also had moments in their life that revealed to them, piece by piece, that the promise is false. This made them deeply sad, and this sadness pulled, pulls them away from believing that anything like the promise is possible, either. Because it is not only outside of them, what they were told would be theirs, it is also inside of them. That they would grow and be more capable of something like joy – that the water would taste better could be because of them as well – and growing capable to enjoy things has the same tune as becoming wise, which is like growing old. But joy seemed to leap over them, close enough to blow through their hairs, but not enough to lift them up, and so has the idea of becoming wise, of becoming old, running towards them not to embrace them but to also leap over them. You will understand this feeling can only make a person feel hopeless, because hope is essentially based in that something good will happen in the future, but future for them had been cut short so the space for hope has narrowed down. So now that they see how the promise surrounding them was not entirely true, and its broken glimmer revealed a short corridor only, there is also no strength to pursue it regardless, to try to reach for something similar, to even try to make it possible because the things that they were told would make them happy and proud and wise now look pointless, to be pursued by inertia only because there is also no strength to stop. The promise of who they were to be also feels false and now they are left dry, barren soul and barren land. And they stare, wondering how to move because everywhere they are weighted down by the echo of the promise, a lie, that keeps ricocheting around their world and drowning out their plights.

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