By 9:10 AM I’d already turned down an offer for water, one for breakfast, one for an extra napkin and one for company on my five-block walk to work. Pretty curious behavior for someone who purportedly wants capital M more out of life.
If I can’t even accept a fistful of napkins from a friend, how exactly do I expect to take in the big ticket items? (An agent, a publisher, a pension, a Disney vacation)
I watched myself systematically and reflexively say “no, no, I’m fine” repeatedly yesterday. It was the same “no” that keeps me from accepting hot tea from the lady who trims my hair or my neighbor’s offer to watch the kids while I make dinner when Jeff’s out of town. It’s my knee-jerk, my go-to, my happy place. This “no” broadcasts to the world my essential and subconscious mission statement: I’m not a person who can take in unbidden offers of kindness, help or pleasure; I’ve got everything taken care of thankyouverymuch.
But here’s the deal. I actually was thirsty that day when Anna was cutting my hair, but I couldn’t take her up on the offer for hot tea. And when my friend offered to buy me a yogurt parfait for breakfast? I was fucking starving– I’d just been to spin class. But I thought, no, I have a Clif bar in my purse so … so … I’ll just say no and watch her eat. When my neighbor offered to watch the kids so I could put my cauliflower concoction in the oven, it would have been so much better to say yes. Had I said yes, the kids and I would have had dinner before 7:30 PM, before the epic meltdowns, before the power struggles over who has to wear a pull-up to bed, before I resorted to sneak-eating ice cream in the downstairs bathroom.
It would have been so much better to say yes.
I gave “yes” a spin today. I let someone hold the gym door open for me while I swiveled my double BOB stroller through it. I’ve done that move 50 times and never accepted help. It took three seconds out of this guy’s life to help me out. I said yes. I didn’t die. I simply got through the door without trying to half-heave the stroller and 85 lbs of my own flesh & blood through a three-foot opening.
After that, I decided I’d accept any offers to receive for the next two hours. Lucky for this old creature of habit, none were lobbed my way. But, I’m putting “yes” on notice: I’m coming to get you. I’m coming to grab you with my own sticky paws. I’m going to hold you up to the light and examine you from every single angle. In a few months, I’m going to be all Yes! to napkins! Yes! to babysitting! Yes! to free scalding hot beverages!
Yes! to help and pleasure and kindness and attention.
Because the price of “no thanks, I’m fine” is too high to ignore.