The associations with yes and no are, generally, positive and negative, respectively. John Lennon fell for Yoko because her particular piece of art was, simply, the word YES.
“…a ladder that led to a painting, which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a white canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. I climbed the ladder, looked through the spyglass, and in tiny little letters it said, YES.
So it was positive. I felt relieved. It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say NO or ‘ahem‘ or something.
I was very impressed. John Dunbar introduced us – neither of us knew who the hell each other was. She didn’t know who I was; she’d only heard of Ringo; I think it means apple in Japanese. And Dunbar had sort of been hustling her, saying, “That’s a good patron; you must go and talk to him or do something.” Dunbar insisted she say hello to the millionaire – you know what I mean. And she came up and handed me a card that said BREATHE on it – one of her instructions – so I just went [pants]. This was our meeting.”
We are praised with the word yes and scolded with the word no. Or at the very least, no is followed by what you should have said or done. We should say “yes” to the day at hand and every opportunity it offers us. To say “no” could leave to a lifetime of regret.
But what about those instances where the opposite is true? Those moments when the negative becomes the positive and the positive becomes the negative. To cross these currents could be explosive, or so we are taught.
There is a person who is approached with a high payoff for a possibly shady deal. The young person who is asked to only deliver a package. The offer of something good at the contradiction of your conscience.
Being offered the one thing in life you have dreamed of, at the unspoken cost of everything you have.
So life throws you the proverbial curveball. At least it did me. Actually more than one. I think I have two strikes against me as I anxiously and nervously await the last pitch.
The first strike was being asked, October of 2011, while out to dinner at the now defunct Bella Avanti (Bella’s). I was having ravioli and my wife was eating eggplant parmesan. It is her favorite meal to have when dining out Italian. We had gone out as she and Jen, which was becoming a little more frequent, and that was nice. She looked up at the end of her meal and asked, “So, is this what you want? Would this make you happy, to live as a woman full time?” My reply was a simple, “yes”.
The immediate look on my wife’s face, and the tears that followed, should have led me to rethink my answer, or at least add in the phrase, “but only if we can make this work.” I added nothing and we began to talk about our future.
She always said that she would stay with me no matter what, if this was ever a decision that would be reached. So we started there. How could we make this work? What things would we try? How long would we try? A truer and stronger love than ours, neither of us knew. She assured me she wasn’t going anywhere. With tears beginning to flow, we decided we should probably leave the restaurant and either head home, or somewhere else that was private, to continue this discussion. We chose home, as more tears were sure to follow.
We spoke, just briefly, and decided we could come back to the topic as it wasn’t going anywhere and we desperately needed to laugh now. So we chose the one movie that always made us laugh, and become instant idiots around each other, ROLE MODELS.
As phrases like “Taste the beast!” and “It’s called a Venti because it’s 20 ounces! Twenty! Venti!”, we stopped paying attention and began the further discussion of our future. We were sure of ourselves. We were two people in love more than any other couple had ever been, and we were about to embark on a great adventure. One that would take us to the very end of what we knew.
I say the end, because that is what happened. All of our positivity led to therapy for her, the end of our marriage and the life we had known and shared for the past 22 years, with all of its struggles and rewards.
Yes can lead to so many negatives. Saying yes to new things may mean the death of old. Yes can cut you down and leave you completely alone, just as much as it can lift you up and ensure you have the company of loved ones. They say to embrace life you must say “Yes”, even though every fiber of your being is telling you the opposite. Saying yes to a friend, when you understand that no was the better response.
Yes can be one of the most rewarding words in the history of, well, words, and saying yes can also lead to the loss of everything you hold dear. It can take you far away, leaving you shattered, alone, in situations you wish not to be in, but with no real way out. Yes can be the deliverer of unimagined delights or the harbinger of unparalleled dismay and defeat. Which one will it deliver?
We will never know, until we have said, “YES”.