I had a really stressful day a couple of weeks ago and I decided on a new resolution for the year: more baths. I had just finished the first full draft of my Sex Surge® book and I needed a shot of tequila, a slice of cake, a long, hot bath, and a good stress cry.
One of the things I thought about was the last part I wrote in my book. It is probably the most important part of the book and it centers on daring to take the journey that the Sex Surge calls us to. It is about daring to say ‘yes’ to what we want and need and taking the steps towards those things- even though we have no idea of the outcome. I’ve been thinking about ‘yes’ a lot lately. What it means to say ‘yes,’ what kind of courage and curiosity it takes to step forward, how we do that, and why. Two quotes showed up last week, as I was pondering these things.
“… and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes
and then he asked me would I yes…
and first I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad
and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
– James Joyce
“So, empty your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven’t spread around? And I will answer. “I’ve got nothing to return. I spent everything you gave me. I’m as naked as the day I was born.”
– Erma Bombeck
Saying yes is the only way we ever move forward in life. It is how we pave the road of our life. Yes by yes, step by step. No life is a straight line- we all zig zag through our decisions and their consequences. But yes is the only way we grow and change. If we don’t say ‘yes’ we don’t move, which we are also free to choose. But it makes for a boring life.
Saying yes is hard, and sometimes scary, though. There have been things in my life I knew I wanted and it was easy to say yes. College. Living on my own. Marrying my guy. Having kids. Buying a house. Those were some easy yeses.
There have also been difficult ones. Moving overseas. Boundaries with family members. Moving to New England from Seattle.
And there have been yeses that I had no idea what I was getting in to. Saying yes to what the Sex Surge asked of me. Getting my master’s degree. Actually being married. I had no idea where these things would take me, and yet, I said yes anyway.
Saying yes has also taught me about ‘no.’ If yes is the paving of the road, no is the yellow lines on the side- you can go over them, but the consequences vary. Some things I have chosen have cut me off from other options. When we moved overseas it cut off options for jobs and family connections- those became a ‘no.’ (Which actually turned out to be a good thing.)
I have been handed a ‘no’ by some folks. When I asked for an open marriage (or a weekend pass) during the Sex Surge, I got a very clear no. And I had to learn to deal with it because that ‘no’ meant keeping my marriage, which is what I most wanted. I’ve had many no’s from many places and I have learned to live within those lines. And certainly, with age, some things are a simple, clear no based on my own wisdom (which is to say: the outcomes of previous yeses have paved the way for this no).
Discernment is also a huge part of knowing what our ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are. I’m not suggesting we should just jump off every exciting bridge we come to in order to be fully alive. We have to use the wisdom of our experience to make the best decisions we can about what ‘yeses’ to follow. Yes, however, is really what keeps us alive and moving forward. Yes to new adventures. Yes to outside our comfort zone. Yes to curiosity. Yes to joy. Yes to desire. Yes to ‘I don’t even know, but let’s try.’
Not everyone can live this way, to state the obvious. And it took me years to say yes in some cases- I wasn’t terribly open to yes twenty years ago. Sometimes being alive takes time to cultivate. Saying yes takes practice. I get that. (Also, I know yes can induce anxiety, fear, and procrastination in some folks. That’s okay.) But yes is still the only way we move our life forward.
Yes is the adventure. No is the course correction. But it’s all beautiful learning and growth and good for our soul. Even when things don’t go the way we want, the yes and the no we learn from are the gems of the journey. They allow us the opportunity to be ever wiser in our future yes and no. They allow us to find, at the end of our life, that we’ve spent every bit of what we were given.
May your yeses bring you joy and your nos be gentle, fellow travelers.
Joanna :: xoxo