I discovered just the other night a poem by Robert Frost. I know nothing about him, I’ve never read any of his work, but I was transfixed, and brought almost to tears:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
he will not see me stopping here
to watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
to stop without a farmhouse near
between the woods and frozen lake
the darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
to ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
I would like nothing more than to dwell quietly in someone else’s woods, watching the hypnotic gentle fall of snow, wrapped in the warmth of tranquil darkness. To step out of my life sometimes. Because it gets demanding. Because people and things rely on me – on my competence, on my caring, on my capacity to hold it together. Because I had a panic attack at the Cathedral last night and I’m ashamed, and grateful, and determined to keep strong and see this through.
I can’t step out of my life sometimes, resting in peaceful hiatus until I’m ready to step back in. Because I have promises to keep. Not only to others, but also to myself. I promise that I will continue to stand straight and keep my dignity and integrity and strength in all the storms and stills of flashbacks and anxiety. I promise that the life I saved for myself – at huge cost – will be worth something, that the safety I have won from violence will stand for something. I promise that, even though I don’t always believe it, I am worth the life I have.
So I can’t watch snow gather in someone else’s wood. Because I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.