Promises to keep and miles to go

Muir Woods, Marin County, CA 2003

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
 But I have promises to keep,

 And miles to go before I sleep…”  — Robert Frost

It’s tempting to be drawn into our own ruminations. Trouble can be an isolating experience, and solitude is a seductive force, both healing and dangerous. If we withdraw too long or too often from others, we neglect our responsibility to ourselves as well as to them. Most of us really do have promises to keep and miles to go, no matter how exhausted or discouraged we become.

How can we find the balance between contemplative, wholesome solitude and the daily activities that maintain the connections to others that are so vital to our existence? How can we discern whether a suffering person needs our company, our words or our silence? What are some ways we can be open to the help that others can provide?


  1. Ellis

    I’ve got 10 miles behind me, and ten thousand more to go….

    James Taylor, Sweet Baby James

  2. Kathy

    Finding this type of balance in my daily life is an ongoing challenge. I love when you said “solitude is a seductive force, both healing and dangerous” because that illustrates this struggle so well. I tend to find an ebb/flow necessary — out in the world, back in, out again, etc. Might be easier for extroverts to navigate this balance?

    As far as discerning others’ needs, the older I get, the more brave I get about not worrying whether I’ve come up with the right words, silence, etc. and just put myself out there, trusting that God will help the person interpret my intentions as coming from His spirit in me.

    Love you, Julia!

    • Kathy, you have pinpointed one of the great advantages of getting older. I could not imagine myself doing anything public like this blog even one year ago, but I too seem to get braver (or at least more unable to retreat) as I get older. In my opinion, it’s not easier for extroverts to stay balanced; we tend to burn ourselves out. It’s especially dicey for those of us who are very sensitive on top of being gregarious; we get overstimulated and exhausted. Jeff’s reclusive nature, disciplined life and stability have been my sanity for so many years. Thanks for joining us here! I love you too and miss seeing you. Be watching for photos I took while you and I were out snapping pictures together in London, Virginia Beach, St. Louis, San Antonio…

      • Kathy

        Yes, I can see that about extroverts, esp sensitive ones. I’m sure we’ve talked about the Richard Swenson books on margin and balance and overload? I find those concepts fascinating. I look forward to more photos and conversation!

        • Actually, Kathy, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Richard Swenson, but I’ll certainly look him up. We have shared about Elaine Aron’s books, and some others about living a sane life in a stressful world. You’ve pointed me to some great titles over the past 10 years!


  1. Remembering: Promises to keep | Defeat Despair

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