Home > advice -- not that you asked > Yes is a Beautiful Word

Yes is a Beautiful Word

Once, I watched an interview with spoken word poet, Taylor Mali. It was after I’d seen him perform for the first time, and he was brilliant. I’d never seen someone deliver a poem the way he did. He combined two of my favorite things: acting and poetry. It pretty much changed my life. Anyway, in the interview, he was asked what his favorite word was. With almost no hesitation, he said yes. He went on to explain that we say no too often, that we don’t open ourselves up, that too often we hear no.

Yes, he said, is a beautiful word.

I’ve never forgotten that. It struck me at the time, sticking itself between my ribs, housing itself in my consciousness, for better or worse. We spend a lot of time searching for excuses, reasons to say no, reasons to avoid, to hold back, to keep ourselves to ourselves. I suppose that touches on what I blogged about earlier, about people who put up walls and hide behind them always. (That is not the same thing as boundaries or protecting yourself from vampire-like people. Totally different conversation, that.)

Sometimes, we ask a question that isn’t just a question. Sometimes, it’s much more than that. We ask for space, or time, or we ask for someone to make time for us. And it sounds simple, easy even – just an hour, or ten minutes for a phone call. It’s a hopeful request, one that begs all on its own for a yes.

If you ask me for time, 9 times out of 10, I’ll give it. That’s just who I am. Unless the world has literally exploded, or my phone has died, or I physically cannot get somewhere – I ferret out the time and space, when asked. I have no inclination to function otherwise. I’m more yes than no. I’d rather be that way than not. Because yes is a beautiful word, ripe with possibility and promise.

Part of what I don’t understand is when people attempt to live their lives by halves, to love in small measures, to dole attentions and promises in terms of maybe. Maybe is a bitch wearing someone else’s shoes. Maybe is a halfhearted attempt at yes, with just enough wiggle room to change your mind. In short: maybe might be worse than no, because it’s undefined until it becomes either yes or no.

That kind of limbo is…frustrating. But I also think maybe means different things to different people. To some, it means I don’t want to say no, but… For others, it means I’m really trying to make it work. It depends on the person, the circumstance, and the situation. I know this, but it’s taken me a while to realize it. However, the simple truth is: when you ask something of someone, you never really want to hear maybe. Sure, it happens. There are reasons, but we’re all just looking for yes. We spend our entire lives and careers searching for yes. At work. At home. At a coffee shop. Smiling at someone, hoping they smile back? That’s a question, looking for a yes. Asking someone to call you, or hang out, or dance? Looking for a yes. Saying, “Hey, can you make some time for me?” is a yes opportunity.

How often do we hear no, not now, maybe, or I can’t? How often are we met with that, instead of yes? I think, perhaps, too often. The world is full of daring and waiting to see it plays out. You and I? We’re only responsible for the leap. The fall is up to something or someone else. The landing, I suppose. The important thing is not to be afraid of asking, to not be afraid to fling ourselves into the fray. The fray, folks, is where the fun is. It’s where the possibilities and promises are. Right in the thick of chaos, there lies hope and what-if (the good kind, not the doubting kind).

So, ask the questions. Look for a yes. Accept the no. Figure out what the maybe means. But try, dare, and do. Otherwise, no is the only answer you’ll ever find.

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  1. June 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

    “The fray, folks, is where the fun is.” — Wonderful line and sentiment!!

    • June 15, 2012 at 7:34 am

      Thank you, Jim! I’m glad that you liked that line and this post. 🙂

  2. Greek
    June 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

    So wait, call me maybe is a bad idea? But, but, what about mediocrity?! Ha, good post, Ali.

  3. June 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Wise words to keep in mind. Great post!

    • June 15, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Thank you, Alissa! 🙂 I’m glad that you liked this.

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