The Promise

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If you were to be your own “first-responder” in this time of personal and cultural challenges, what would you offer yourself first? What promise would you make… and keep?

Join me as we once again consider where we are and what we can do to make this a meaningful and fulfilling time.

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I’ve written in past newsletters about a set of phrases I collectively call, “The Promise.” I started saying them to wounded soldiers in Southeast Asia when I was serving as their combat medic and by some miracle, was able to keep my word to them.

Years ago, while spending time in deep reflection, I wrote a poem about offering that promise to myself. Perhaps you’ll find your own meaning in it.

The Promise

As I set out once more
to gather the fragments of myself,
without excuses or apology,
without surrendering again to fear,
I felt my resolve grow stronger.

Standing still at last,
I peeled away the layers
of my outworn armor
and carefully sifted through
all that had been my life.

Among the litter, I found a promise,
folded and tattered and worn,
words faded and barely readable
on a simple note I wrote to myself
so long ago I had forgotten it.

Slowly, my promise come back to me.
“I’m right here.”
“I’ve got you.”
“I won’t leave.”
“No matter what.”

Trembling, I turned the page over
and brought it closer to read the final line.
Through my falling tears it said,
“When you’ve forgotten,
come find me, I’ll be here waiting.”
(from Unpublished Poems by Scott Lennox)

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Strange, the promises we make and then forget along the way. And strange, the way our words come back either to haunt us or bless us.

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If nothing else, living through this remarkable time affords us the opportunity to stop and remember who and what we essentially are as human beings, and to redefine and reconnect with the people and things that matter the most to us.

In last week’s episode, I spoke briefly about some of the ways isolation is affecting us, including myself. As I said then, just like you, I’m a human being and not a machine, and just like you, I am on no one’s schedule but my own. My primary focus is to do the most right things I can, and to offer myself the acknowledgement and the grace and the freedom of being human.

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A couple of mornings ago, I had a much-welcomed conversation with one of my closest friends. An accomplished artist and musician, he told me that for the past few weeks he’s been having to make himself get out of bed and go to his painting studio. After a bit of self-reflection, he’s creating ways to change that, including allowing himself the gift of taking a nap in the afternoon as a way of restoring and letting go of some of the stress he’s been experiencing.

He’s far from alone. In both personal and professional conversations, and with increasing frequency, I’m hearing a number of common themes. Topping the list are feelings of low-grade anxiety, mild to severe depression, having a shorter fuse, outbursts of anger, difficulty with focus and concentration, and binging on sugar or carbs or alcohol.

There’s no doubt that some of that is driven by the countless unknowns we are all facing globally, societally, and personally. Some of it is related to our protracted isolation and the rather sudden inability to safely engage in activities we took for granted only a few weeks ago. And some of it arises from feelings of fear, either acknowledged or unacknowledged.

So, what to do about it? What to do when we are feeling “off” as some have described it to me?

Not in psycho-babble terms or in terms of the latest coping fad, but in terms that are reasonable and personally effective. In terms that are safe and healthy and consistent with who we are. In terms that will help us to be a bit more fluid and flexible, and a bit kinder to ourselves and the people around us.

One thing each of us can do is practice some form of conscious letting go on a daily basis. I can offer you something to help with that. Near the beginning of the podcast archive on my website at, you’ll find episodes three and four.

Gently Letting Go and Mountain Meditation are twenty-minute guided relaxation audios I recorded a few years ago to help listeners systematically release tension from the inside out. You might find them useful. You can also find relaxation videos on YouTube and other sites.

Another thing we can do is notice what we’re telling ourselves about our circumstances and our abilities to cope from one moment to the next. Since our actions and the ways our bodies function are strongly connected to what we think, it might be good to listen to ourselves and then let ourselves in on the secret of how vastly capable we are as well as how vulnerable we are.

I leave it to you to find other ways that fit your life and the moment you are living. To encourage that, here are this week’s Beautiful Questions. There are three of them.

Question One: What shifts in your thinking and behavior have you noticed during the past few weeks?

Two: Among those changes, which ones need the most attention?

And question Three: What things can you do to bring those altered parts of your experience back to where you want them?

I encourage you to be easy with yourself as you investigate and to be even easier as you put your healthiest changes into place. I promise that it will be time well-spent. And I promise that you are worth whatever it takes to get there.


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As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light


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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.


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