I’m in the habit of saying yes to things that bring me more suffering…
Yes I’ll take on that project for you, even though I’m already overloaded and overwhelmed
Yes I’ll let you talk to me like that without calling you out on it or simply walking away
Yes we can stay friends; I’ll pretend you don’t keep letting me down
…and saying no to things that bring me more joy
No I can’t come to your party because I have work in the morning
No I’m not going to try, I’ll just embarrass myself
No I don’t need your help thanks
A couple of days ago, I made a different choice. I’d just finished an eight hour day and had to drive three hours that night. It had been a beautiful, clear winter’s day and as evening set in, the sky was putting on a spectacular colour show. As I sat behind the wheel, I debated whether to take a detour so I could spend some time at the beach watching the sun go down, or to keep driving so I’d get home when I’d planned.
Really my choice was this: take advantage of the moment or let it pass me by.
I thought about the precious uniqueness of this particular moment. It existed now; later it would not. I could tell myself that there would always be another time, but I can’t guarantee my future and anyway, another sunset is a another sunset. It may be similar, but it’s also different, its own.
Right now the sky was a study of pink and violet, inviting me to enjoy. So I turned my wheel and took a right turn down to the shore.
I sit a lot of moments like this out. The reason why seems so silly and pathetic: I’m afraid.
I’m scared of how my life might change – of how I might change – in a million tiny ways if I say yes.
It’s not lost on me that my life changes – I change – every time I say no, too.
This fear of mine seems to have got bigger as I’ve grown older and taken on greater responsiblities. It wants me to live safely within a box – a nice box, tastefully decorated & comfortably furnished, but a box all the same. The more I choose suffering over joy with my ‘yes’s and ‘no’s, the better the box looks. I have a place to hide out in. A place I can pretend I’m in control.
I want to get better at spotting the difference between a yes that will expand me, open me up and a yes that will make me small, close me in. I want to get better at choosing wisely.