“Yes” represents the transformation from either-or to both-and thinking. It is the fusion of dualities, the essence of choice, the claiming of personal and collective responsibility. It is ending the need to blame or shame, the need to dominate or annihilate, the need to hoard or steal. I believe that learning to live in a both-and world is our greatest challenge for the next millennium.
“Yes” means I am, I choose, I take responsibility for my life, family, planet, actions, joy and horror. I belong, I create, I shimmer. It also means we are, we choose together, we take responsibility, we belong, we create, we shimmer. Any experience I wish to explore requires the fundamental, conscious, and often unconscious collaboration of so many other human and non-human elements. It doesn’t matter that the cooperation appears to be adversarial at times.
“Yes” is enough: it invites limited or limitless expression.
“Yes” is powerful enough to embrace and obscure the “No” that is its shadow self: the choice not made, the life not lived, the unfulfilled yearning, the unexplored opportunity that remains in the field of probabilities to provide color and contrast, continual choice, the chiaroscuro effect that makes our choices shimmer with delight.
“Yes” is the critical element in all reality creation: a raucous, robust howl into the field of probabilities, whether that reality becomes one of joy or horror. It is the willingness to explore ideas, beliefs, emotions, and options with enough force to materialize them and to see them in their full expression. It is the willingness to take the awesome capacity of wonder to its logical conclusion and to learn from experience as it unfolds. The experience may be terrific, one worth repeating, or it may be terrible, one I/we never want to repeat. Either way, “Yes” furthers. Whether or not I realize it now, the goal is always understanding, fulfillment, collaboration, compassion…the goal is always LOVE.
Sooner or later experience serves love in all its forms, whether or not that service is understood in the present moment. That is why the willingness to say a deep and profound “Yes!” may be the ultimate gift for achieving our particular version of heaven on earth. It acknowledges the grace that permits literally anything to be experienced, perhaps in the form of a Star-Trek-type hologram, while ultimately destroying nothing.
So how does all of this translate into daily life for me specifically?
- I don’t try to figure out all the details, trusting that the universe “leans in my direction.” I say “Yes” once and emphatically, and then go on to make small and large decisions assuming that any decision I make leads ultimately to my fulfillment. I have stopped “taking my temperature” every three seconds.
- I have given up my traumas and reasons and excuses and blame for being unfulfilled: parents, partners, children, politics, work, myself…all of it. All of that is part of an either-or worldview. All of that from the past helped create and deepens my current both-and approach, not only in spite of, but also because of those past experiences. I claim, embrace, recognize, even applaud my shortcomings and the shortcomings of others, for that experience always leads me to compassion and the possibility of embracing something quite different…the possibility for individual and collective fulfillment.
- Whenever I feel a “No” coming on, I try to catch myself and giggle. That’s enough: no long processing, no hair shirt of self-deprecating judgment, no expectation of perfection. I try to simply notice and move on, dropping that potential “No” into the past once again with all the others, to be replaced with a “Yes” in some specific and actionable form right now.
- I say a small “Yes” a million times a day: laughing at the critters’ antics, taking photos of a new blossom, smiling during a silly family conversation, doing mundane household chores, looking often at the sky, reading something provocative. The big “Yes!” takes care of itself.