Changing the Default Response from “No” to “Yes”

NO-YES DEFAULT  This morning I thought to myself, “Three months ago today I was facing a hard task –still living in New York, and with an entire live/work theater to dismantle and put into storage. Now that’s all behind me. I am in LA, and writing nonstop, and more relaxed than I have been in years.”

Just a month ago today, I was driving to Chaco Canyon, to camp out for the first time in more years than I can remember. Since that day I have spent a week at Bas Bleu Theater in CO, casting a play I’ll direct in the spring. I’ve camped out in Utah and Arizona, and visited friends and family in several Southern California locations.

In the time I’ve been spending with myself, I’ve realized that the main benefit of closing up my business and going on the road is that it allows me the exquisite luxury of saying “yes.” For the entire ten years I was running Stage Left Studio, my default answer to most invitations was ”no.” To pay my enormous rent, I had to work 40-60 hours a week, and I was bound to my studio with a ball and chain of responsibility. I wasn’t even able to consider most invites. Answering one with a “Maybe” would not have been truthful. I knew that on the off-chance that I had my to-do list completed, I would still be too worn out to do anything more than lay on my bed or watch TV.

But in the last two months I have said yes to vacationing on Tybee Island, desultory days of reading, 6000 miles of slow and easy road trip, seven nights of camping in national parks, dinners with friends, going to shows and museums, attending AA meetings as a guest, auditing acting classes, taking field trips, and staring into space, watching ideas bubble up and take shape.

It occurs to me that at my age, sixty-five, many of us have moved into the default “no” in response to invitations. We become set in our ways, too comfortable in the rut of our normal habits, and unwilling to deal with novelty. But on this trip, which I have named my loveandworktour, everything I do is a novelty. I sleep in different rooms, shop at different groceries, cook in different kitchens. I am forced to change most of my habits or to justify the ones I cling to.

I have so much free time, during this year-long road trip, that when someone invites me to do something, I now try on “yes” before even considering “no.” And I like what that is bringing out in my character. I find that I am more accepting, of my self and others. I’m more willing to not know what’s happening, to adjust my behaviors, to have a new response.

This year off will end next July. But I think that the default “yes” will continue. I like the way it makes me feel.

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