I have a confession to make. I was queen of the word No when I was younger. Now one might think this is not such a bad thing because, as Cat Stevens reminds us, oh, baby, it’s a wild world. But as a young person growing up it actually thwarted much of my efforts to explore and grow. This statement can sound like a contradiction to those who know me and my adventures to leave my cozy home in Canada to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles. I didn’t think I was cutting myself off or was even aware that I had been saying No more often than not. It wasn’t until I had dinner with my mentor a few days before leaving for LA that it was really brought to my attention. During our conversation she asked if she could give me a piece of advice and proceeded to tell me not to be so quick to say No all the time. I was astounded. Had I really been doing that?
I think it’s fair to say that growing up as a child of the 50’s into the permissive 60’s, the word No was quite prolific, most often out of my parent’s mouths. No to certain clothes. No to certain friends. No to certain music or dances or riding on motorcycles with boys. Looking back through the lens of a parent I understand their worry to keep me safe and away from so called bad influences. But if I can summarize lyrics written by the great Bruce Springsteen who, when told by his mother not to look into the sights of the sun mused that looking into the sun was actually where the fun was. Sorry, Mama. So in essence for me No was a bad word as I was growing up and one I vowed would not rule my life once I was on my own. Be careful what you wish for.
There is absolutely power in the word No that should be wielded in the right place and time. I did learn as a young woman navigating the wild world that No was an essential word for survival. As I acquired more responsibilities, it was imperative. No to more work. No to more commitments. No to unwanted advances. No to hate and discrimination. But it is easy to let the word No take over. Ironically saying no to something can come way too quickly. It can roll off the tongue before the suggestion has even reached the brain and effectively shut down an invitation or an idea. It can close a door you never even realized should have been opened. Of all the things my mentor had shared with me all those years back, this is the one piece of advice that endures.
There is no doubt that saying Yes can be scary. At times, it can feel like making a deal with the universe you may not be quite ready to make. And it can definitely not be an easy choice. Sometimes Yes takes a lot of effort to actually implement. But there is no negating that saying Yes sends a vibration into the ether that opens up that place of willingness and promises lots of possibilities. It actually feels amazingly freeing to say Yes to something. Saying Yes can bring new adventures and open up new avenues.
Yes to travel! Yes to a new haircut! Yes to learning a computer program! Yes to eating…escargot??? Ummm….maybe not quite there yet. I recently read a quote that encouraged one to take every chance in life because some things only come around once. Well there is that. Back when we were in our 20’s a good friend and I decided we should never regret the things we have done only the things we have not done. Looking back, had I said No too many times? Probably. But looking forward I have a thousand more chances to say Yes.
To paraphrase Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey who, in their catchy ode to throwing caution to the wind “Take It Easy” state that in any situation we never know if we might lose or win but we would never be in the same place again. Saying Yes is definitely a risk but one a person would never appreciate if they did not take it. Maybe I am not ready to say Yes to everything and I doubt I ever will be. But I have opened myself up to new experiences and ideas despite that sometimes scary and free falling feeling. When that happens, I just remind myself to take it easy.