Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yes

I watched a Jim Carey movie this weekend, Yes Man. I didn't see it when it was in theaters and I thought I recalled that the reviews weren't terribly flattering so I never managed to rent it on DVD either. But there it was on HBO and nothing else was on, so I watched it.

I'm not saying it was a particularly good movie, but I will say it got me to thinking. The main character, Carl, attends a self-help seminar where he is challenged to say "Yes'" to everything. Yes to every invitation, yes to every opportunity, yes to everyone.

Of course he misunderstands the "everything" and takes it literally, saying yes to things one obviously shouldn't (endangering your health, allowing the elderly, dentured next door lady to, well, uh, nevermind...) but you get the idea. The general lesson is that by saying yes to life, and saying yes to people, Carl's life goes from being somewhat lonely and meaningless, to being full and engaged.

I say yes to a lot, but I also say no to a lot. My excuses are the usual litany of: I'm tired, it's late or I'm too busy. The trouble is, when you look back on your life, it's not the times you said "no" that you'll remember, but all the times you said "yes."

I lost an old friend last week. I've written a blog or two about it but I haven't been able to get the words quite right. Even writing about it right now feels wrong because these words are all about me, and not about my friend. But the overwhelming feeling I've been having is one of regret. Regret for not making time for my friend. Regret for not staying in touch. Regret for not being there.

All the times we said "no" are the times we regret. Do we ever regret "yes?" Yes if it comes from a friend, an opportunity, a charity? The words "Make Time" keep running through my head. Make time for friends. Make time to catch up. Make time for the park. Make time for volunteerism. Make time for coffee. Make time for your child's classroom parties. Make time for life.

It will all be gone before I know it. My friend had just turned 40. My friend was teaching and coaching up until three weeks ago. I did not make time for my friend. There is no way I can make that up to her. The only thing I am left with is the rest of my life, and the friends who are still here.

In her honor, in her memory, I vow to make time. I will say yes. I will reach out. I write these words and realize they may sound hollow. Perhaps for people who've dealt with death more than I have, they will recognize the folly in thinking I can change because of the immediate pain of loss. But I think for those of us who've managed to overcome a whole helluva a lot in life, we have a sort of faith in ourselves and know that we are capable of amazing growth and change. I don't think it's ever too late. I believe in the redemption of souls and in second chances.

I think my friend is whispering those words to me. I can hear her telling me it's not too late.

I've been in survival mode for so long now, it seems I'd forgotten how to live. Sure I've managed happiness, I've managed to find love again, I've managed to not only raise a child on my own but I've watched him thrive. But life is more than just our immediate demands and our immediate family. It's time to say "yes" to a much broader range of people and experiences. Yes to all life has to offer. Yes to friends. Yes to work. Yes to risk. Yes to inconvenience. Yes to strangers. Yes to things I think I won't like but maybe I will, if I give it a chance.

Perhaps that's all life is in the end: a long list of opportunities you can either embrace or reject. Those opportunities are attached to people. Those people are the relationships that make up your life and fill it with meaning. Saying yes is really about saying yes to the people you love or the people you may grow to love.

So yes.

Yes, yes, yes.

It's never too late to say yes.

29 comments:

  1. I totally agree! Sometimes we say no WAY too much, and it's time for a yes now and then! Loved that movie!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So, Mandy, am I the best writer you've ever known or read or ever will read?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have chosen to be open minded and live in the moment, which gives me the opportunity to say yes all the time. Admittedly it is hard to keep it up, but just by thinking yes first, even if I don't necessarily follow through, I find myself in a world of really positive energy.

    Plus it's an excuse to have one more at the pub with friends, see what is around the next bend during a long hike, and try things that you normally wouldn't do in a million years.

    I'm sorry about your friend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I, too, am sorry about your friend. I wonder, though . . . it's easy to somehow punish ourselves for the failures we might believe we made in our relationships, but I think my ultimate goal is to truly be able to look back and say that, in whatever ways I might not have fulfilled that person's need, I did the absolute best that I could. Does that makes sense?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've started saying yes to the good hearted homeless vet when I see him outside our grocery store. I'm slowly making up for saying no. It does a soul good.

    And this was a beautifully written post. Thank you for words.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was just talking about this today. There is much to much saying no in my general vicinity.

    And no... it isn't just about sex... gutter mind.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mandy, I think you just wrote it.

    I've seen that movie too and was surprised that I actually got something out of a ...Jim Carrey movie...but it was kind of like Evan Almighty to me. The meaning was definitely there.

    I'm sorry about your friend.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm so sorry you lost a friend. But what a great perspective to take in the wake of your loss.

    I have a hard time saying no to people and sometimes my over-yes-ing sends me right over the edge. Gotta find that balance...particularly when it's so easy to give more time to things like Facebook than face-to-face time with the people I care about.

    ReplyDelete
  9. great post. I think we're all so exhausted and overworked we forget to say yes to the things that are good for us and for others.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I soooo know what you mean about being in survival mode for so long. I too am trying to live a little. I am sorry about your friend. *Hugs without touching you*

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes, I agree. Saying yes opens up so many possibilities.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yessiree! It's a good idea. Wonder how different each of our lives would be if we said yes instead of no. Then again, "no" is not a bad word. Sometimes it takes more courage to say "no" than it does "yes". I like your blog and I signed up to follow. See you again soon. Stop by my place sometime. http://www.boomerpie.com/

    ReplyDelete
  13. On the wall in my office:

    "The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." (Joseph Campbell)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think the best thing to do is just treat people with acceptance , smile at someone even if they don't smile back,give back in just being kind, and not continuing to let that inner voice tell you that you should feel guilty over a friends passing, it just happens,But we still do feel the regret,don't we? It means you have a kind heart to feel sad. We need more love in this world for sure. And hell, people die at all ages,it does not mean life is passing by that quick, a lot of laughter and good times await you,don't worry. :)be gentle to yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  15. i don't know the situation, nor would i presume to know anything - but as a friend that has been neglected and a friend that has neglected - i always think that it's never too late for those that come from a place of love.

    it is so easy to get caught up in survival mode or just life in general until i never realize where my time went.

    i think of that paragraph by erma bombeck and say to myself to burn the rose candle, say yes more, no more and not wait until the exact right time. the only time is now.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Saying yes to the ride, whatever the ride might be... but still saying no to spiders...

    I am sorry for your lost Mandy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are so right that it's the yeses we remember more than the nos.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My thoughts are with you and all the others who loved your friend who left life too early.

    I absolutely agree with you. Unless it is detrimental to my mental, physical or emotional well-being I say yes as much as possible. If I can't be certain, I promise to do my best to join in. And I do. It's not just words.

    The only time I say no is if I am already committed or if I feel it will be bad for me in some way. That said, I'll still show up to watch say...trick skateboarding. I might feel it's dangerous for myself but I'm keen to cheer on those who love what they love.

    Yes is a good word.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh yeah,fine example I was of loving people today blasting my horn at someone driving 10 miles under the speed limit,like blasted my horn,yelling obscenities (inside my car,not out the window) still I was self embarrassed after thinking "Why get pissed at people for dumb shit?" ? I was not showing much kindness.Who am I to preach about how to treat people with kindness when I am blasting my horn like a madman for nothing really

    ReplyDelete
  20. You thought you couldn't do your friend justice by writing a post, but I think you succeeded brilliantly with this one. I didn't know her but I have a feeling she'd be proud of your new outlook. Say yes to life, Mandy.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I AM sorry to hear about your friend. What you wrote about is true... life doesn't give us any guarantees. Best to do what we can and enjoy as much as possible.And tell people good things when we get the chance.
    XOXO

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm sorry your friend passed away. That's heart breaking.

    I know that I say "no" way too often. I have the best excuses, but I will I explain that to myself when my life comes towards its end?

    ReplyDelete
  23. I should really start rereading comments before i post them. that should read "how will i explain to myself....."

    duh!

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a beautiful blog that was. I had tears in my eyes at the end. Of course, by the time I caught up to the blog about pregnant women in pantyhose, I was laughing my ass off.

    xoxoxo much love

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a beautiful blog that was. I had tears in my eyes at the end. Of course, by the time I caught up to the blog about pregnant women in pantyhose, I was laughing my ass off.

    xoxoxo much love

    ReplyDelete
  26. You make a good point, I too have a problem saying yes. Usually its because I would rather stay home, have a drink and surf the net than go anywhere. I'm tired. I work a lot. But I will look back someday and realize that I did a whole lot of nothing with my free time. I need to change that.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm sorry for your loss.

    This is an excellent post and I'm sure your friend would be more than proud of these words and the thought and intention behind them.

    Now, does this mean we can touch you? *snort*

    ReplyDelete
  28. So young at 40...

    Thank you for your message.
    namaste`

    ReplyDelete