“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please.” --Gandhi
“All the mistakes I ever made were when I wanted to say 'No' and said 'Yes'.” --Moss Hart
“Unless someone truly has the power to say no, they never truly have the power to say yes.” --Dan Millman, world champion trampolinist
I've lived on Yes. I'm writing this blog as a practice of saying Yes. But if I keep saying yes as a compulsion, I stop having a sense of integrity, I stop knowing who I am. Saying No means saying yes to myself, to maintaining space in my life, so when the right offer comes along, I can say yes to it.
I've said no a lot this week--there's been offers. One came with lots of bells and whistles, was flashy and full of possible fame and fortune. I went deep into my gut and heard, "No," but because I'm not used to saying those types of no's –- out of fear of what I might lose -- I only said, "I'll sleep on it." Anything that will disappear on a good night's sleep is a fiction, anyways. It disappeared. The person wasn't willing to wait for my answer.
I need to value myself enough, after years of trying to please others, and operating out of fear, to take the time--which may be a lot of time--as to whether the offer meets my needs for integrity, safety, growth, and pleasure.
So, I'm saying no again and again, so that I can say yes to the joy living in my heart, so I can say yes to fearless choices when they arise, so I can clear out space so I can be a street performer in Prague--if even for a season, so I can love fiercely and without reservation or guilt, so I can continue to play in the world to the utmost, so I can use the money I might have spent on dinner to pay for a night out dancing, so I can grow into the body, mind, and spirit I see but do not yet inhabit. I'm saying yes to a vision of myself that is close but not quite in reach. I'm doing this one day at a time.
I'm doing this on the wings of a thousand birds. I'm doing this with the help of many wonderful friends and mentors. I'm doing this with the gift of you, reader, bearing witness to the process.
I'm saying no to the distractions of the world, to the countless choices, so my yesses become more particular. I'm saying yes to the small voice of 'no' without question, even if the offer makes sense. I'm saying yes to the small voice in myself that knows what's good for me, so I'm saying no. And, in a kind of reversal of James Joyce's Molly Bloom soliloquy at the end of Ulysess, "No, I said no, no." It's a beautiful song. And gifts of yes enter the space of 'no' manifold:
"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."