Fighting the tendency to say “No” is something I say yes to every day. I don’t want to say No when I’m asked if I want something, or if I want to do something. I don’t want to respond to you in that way. I hear my mouth saying No and I’m regretting it as I walk away from you.
Saying Yes is big and free and open. No is safe and less costly and in bed early. Boy, do I love being in bed early! Boy, do I love free and open, too. Why is Yes so hard for me to say?
I was getting into my car for work one day and was asked, “Do you want your gloves?” I said “No.” There we go, and for the first ten minutes of the drive, my hands were freezing. On the way home, three inches of snow covered my car and my fingers stung, again.
“Did you need your gloves?”
“Yes, I did. I should have listened to you.”
One day not long ago I was about to leave the house for a forty-minute drive to drop something off, and was asked, “Do you want some company?” I responded: “No.” Ten minutes into the drive I was on the phone. “I should have said yes to your offer.”
“Which time?” she asked.
I know I speak too rashly, and I think I can fix it. So much of Yes is in my artistic method. Yes I want to try these discordant materials in a new process. Yes I want to beat the hell out of this finish to get it right. Yes I will destroy a $60 item to improve a $20 piece, on a regular basis. Yes I want to go there, and drag you there, electronically if that’s the only way to grab you.
Unfortunately for the world, artistic method is centered on the artist, not on him agreeing to an offer. That’s got to be it, or at least, a part of the reason why I shut you down. My No’s are artistic F-You carryovers. Oh I feel so much better.
A few summers ago I was eating crackers at a pond. It was a tough season at work that year and any break from the office was worth the time away. I stood near the water and a few turtles swam over. It seems, people have made it a regular thing to throw food to the wildlife here.
I ate my crackers and one of the animals looked at me. Are you going to throw the cracker? No.
So he thought about it, and cautiously came halfway out of the water. Are you going to toss it to me? No.
He thought about it some more, and emerged completely from the pond. Turtles are No beings, too. I understood completely, this was a big deal to him. He was risking historical precedence. He was not used to doing this. At all.
I crouched with the peanut butter cracker and he came forward, grabbed a bite and like lightning he was back in the water, scaring the hell out of his buddy, who dunked out of there, pronto.
He and I, the bold turtle and the man, were Nos. No I am not going to come out of this pond. No I am not going to throw this cracker. And then, we thought, why not try something. Why not take a half-step onto land? Why not go into a crouch, and offer a bite from my fingers? Why not extend my neck and take the offer?
No maintains. Yes grows.
Yes is kind at all times. No is kind at the right time.
No protects the home. Yes invites everyone over.
Yes, let’s try and see what happens. No, I know what’s going to happen.
No is Yes’s chaperone. Yes is No’s night at the dance.