A Path to Yes!
Last Saturday, I went for my first snowshoeing adventure of the season. I had skied in the morning and was hankering for more immersion in that gorgeous day – with its deep blue (almost blue-violet, almost cloudless) sky and pristine-white snow piled high on pines, oak branches and downed tree trunks. Two days previously, we had over 8 inches of new snow, giving St. Cloud a 25-inch base, with drifts up to several feet. While not always fun to drive in, it’s been awesome to behold.
I strapped on my snowshoes and headed across a field en route to a large, protected, wooded area at the edge of my neighborhood. Frequently, the snow would give way and I would find myself suddenly hip deep – not exactly the immersion I had anticipated. Each step became an exercise in mindfulness – and an aerobic workout. I was sweating, breathing hard and very focused.
The woods were a crisscross of deer trails – ideal paths to follow. With trail partly broken, I only sank a foot or so into the snow as I tromped along, apparently the first human in the woods since the new snow. It didn’t take long for the wonder of it all – the adventure, the exertion, the solitude, the beauty, the sunshine, the crisp air and the bracing breeze – to burrow somewhere deep inside. Off and on, for much of the next hour, rhythmic with my steps, over and over, I breathed out loud: “Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” – like a mantra.
I was saying Yes! – yes with an exclamation point, a full-bodied, open-hearted embrace of life in the moment.
It’s exhilarating to feel that “Yes!” inside. And, if I hadn’t first said “no” to my plans for work in the afternoon, I would not have arrived there.
Developmentally, no comes before yes in a sequence that goes like this:
No! No. I know. Yes. Yes!
As toddlers, our first no’s come out loudly. If the loud no’s are met with respect, we naturally move toward saying no with less intensity. Saying no allows us to know. (No-ing leads to knowing.) Once we know, then we can say yes – and, eventually, a wholehearted, life-embracing Yes!
If saying no is punished or not permitted, we learn to disregard ourselves – to rely on external authority rather than our own knowing. Our deep yes doesn’t have the chance to develop. And the yes we do say, without being grounded in knowing, comes out tentative and half-hearted – more like a “maybe” than a real yes.
So, we have to be free to “no” (and know) before we can truly “yes”. No-ing and knowing – a path to Yes!