Truth be told, I am a very fortunate man with an excellent life. This month I will have been married 26 years to a woman I love more today than ever (and who, for reasons I will never ever ever understand, says the same about me.) I have three bright, self-reliant and basically wonderful kids, with wonderful being a gross understatement. I have a Chocolate Lab the entire family cherishes (who, sadly, has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer). I have a good job and a standard of living that exceeds probably 75 percent or more of South Dakotans.
Still, anyone who knows me would tell you I tend to be a tad glum. You know the old saw about whether you see the glass as half full or half empty. I’m more likely to say, “What effin’ glass?” For a variety of reasons, I am working to change that. As has so often happened in my life, there is occasional serendipity. One leads to the title of this post.
There’s a variety of podcasts to which I regularly listen, including that of To The Best Of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio. (Aside to South Dakota Public Broadcasting: you are doing your listeners a disservice by not carrying this program, one of the most intelligent and enjoyable public radio shows around.) In late April, TTBOOK did a program called “Hope Springs Eternal.” Among the segments was an interview with Danny Wallace, the author of Yes Man, a recounting of his year-long s experiment to “say yes more” and to as much as possible.
During the course of the interview, Wallace said something that, given my state of mind at the time, reached out and grabbed me. In fact, it grabbed me so much, it led me to adopt “just say yes” as a new mantra. Here’s what Wallace said:
Yes is a word of risk. No is a word of comfort. No’s a word which means nothing’s gonna change, nothing’s gonna be different because you’re closing yourself off in this little circle, this little protective bubble of no. But when you say yes, that’s when you step out of that circle and you put yourself up to the whims of life.
Whether out of routine, predisposition or whatever, I realized I’ve said no a lot. That little protective bubble, while safe, can also be boring, wearing and stifling. I’m starting/trying to say yes to opportunities, options and things I may have just blown off before. Some of them will be discussed in future posts.
Now I’ll also perhaps discover which adage is more correct: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks or it’s never too late to learn.
Looking up and down this road
I’ve been here before
Can’t be here no more
Title track, Jackson Browne, I’m Alive