“The Promise”

As I mentioned yesterday, quiet is has been an untapped resource in my life. If my deep, hard drive into the newness of unmapped feelings has not been revealed by Gungor and Cyndi or even the honesty of walking away, I welcome you to one of the most gut wrenching realities of the quiet. For people like me, true quiet has to come alone. It’s just too raw for public consumption. Quiet brings truth. And truth is hard. There is no driving bass to cover the discomfort of the quiet.

Tracy Chapman is a musical hero. She is woven deep in the quiet for me. I’ve loved her music for more than 30 years. I was in the 8th grade when she broke onto the music scene. She was a stereotype buster. And she ushered into my musical language a singer/songwriter tender that I was missing. But she was also a stone cold badass. In the most non-80s and 90s way. I can honestly say that in my eclectic musical wanderings, without Tracey, there may not have been Melissa and Alanis and Sheryl. Who would I even be? When “Fast Car” turned into a TikTok phenomenon, I laughed. The Tracey of the 80’s didn’t see that one coming. Of all the songs that make my insides come alive in the quiet, it’s this one. And I’m forever grateful.

My early interactions with this song happened in the broken heart of young love. I thought I knew what it meant to long for connection. No, I thought I understood connection. In my wise and mature ways. And then I went to Wendy’s for a frosty. I was that committed to the feelings. This song was released in 1995. In the midst of a huge life shift. And I listened like my life depended on the emotion. Early this year, a few of her songs found their way back to my regular playlist. But this one stuck. To everything.

Promises are weird. We make them at 8 on the playground. We promise to never tell. We promise to be here. We even ask people, “you promise?” I realized in the quiet that I don’t care about many promises. I have really tried hard not to use that word for my intent. But there is one promise that has been grounding this year. In the same way that Gungor reminded me that I am enough for myself, I needed Tracy to sit with me in the quiet and whisper (because my heart can’t handle a bully in this arena) that I can trust someone else. Even with the fledgling baby bones of my reconstruction efforts, there is enough truth in the depth of my heart to promise the words of this song to those that deserve them. And more importantly, that I could trust this promise from people that have shown me they are capable of being trusted.

If that previous paragraph makes no sense, just listen to this song and trust that it’s a good one. If you read the last paragraph and knew, just sit with this song. Listen again. And when it feels too hard, listen some more. Tracy, and the ones that we need in our soft, won’t demand their place. BUT, if invited, there is beautiful wisdom in this deep breath of melody.

We are not too broken to be loved. None of us.

There are some promises worth keeping.

People who have our backs are there. And they will be. Even when we don’t deserve them. They are waiting for us because their promise is true.

Some of my most uncomfortable quiet moments came in the recognition of this truth. And voices like Tracy will continue to shape me in 2022 like they did in 1995. My only companion in the deepest of the quiet has been music. I would not have survived the pain of the wisdom of the quiet without the rasp of Tracy and the messages of hope from Bono and Taylor and even the great Mr. Flowers. The quiet is so good. See you tomorrow, boy.

Watching sunsets from the dark inside is a quiet meditation for me these days.

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