Without exception, when the universe asks me to do something, I always say yes. I say, “Yes universe! Yes, yes, yes!” not always out loud, but a lot of the time yeah, it’s out loud. Sometimes I scream it. Sometimes I’ll scream it while I’m spinning around in a circle, punctuating that final “Yes!” by pointing my finger straight in the air, like if there were a camera circling me from above, they’d see that last shot, that last “Yes!” like you could freeze-frame it, like you could put that photo on the cover for every spiritual self-help book, or you could make a spiritual self-help magazine, a monthly, maybe a bi-monthly, you could call it Yes! Magazine.
“Unlock your inner Yes!” might be the headline for the first issue. I don’t know, that was just one idea. We don’t necessarily have to go with it. It’s just that, I always say yes to any ideas that pop into my head. One time I read this article on how to be a writer, it said, don’t just write down anything that pops into your head. And I thought, jeez, that’s terrible advice. It’s like, what was I doing, reading No! Magazine? “Delete that last headline: Everything you write is terrible” might be the headline for No! Again, maybe it would be something else. I just can’t really picture anybody buying a copy of a magazine called No!
Well, I mean, I guess there are some things you should say no to. Like crack. Like crack cocaine, I mean, it’s part of the universe, right? Like it’s made out of the same star dust or whatever that you and I are made out of, that everything’s made out of, right? So maybe you don’t have to say “no” to crack. Maybe you can say yes, but then maybe just don’t smoke it? Like, maybe you can make some jewelry out of it. Like a nice crack necklace? Or what else can you do with rocks? You could collect a bunch of them and maybe line your garden with them? That could be kind of nice, maybe?
You see what I did just there? I was right in the middle of maybe thinking of an exception to saying yes to the universe, and what did I do? I wound up saying yes. I said yes to crack! Think about everything else we can say yes to. Like I used to get so bent out of shape, every time I went to the movie theater, every time I bought a popcorn and soda at the concession stand, the cashier would go, “Do you want to donate a dollar to charity?”
And I would get so mad. I’d be like, these stupid movie theaters with their stupid expensive soda and stupid dollar charities. I thought to myself, I want to say no. But I’ve already committed myself to saying yes! So I thought, OK, well what if I just say yes? Do you want to donate a dollar? Yes! And then I’ll just walk away, because they only asked if I wanted to give a dollar, not if I would give a dollar.
But I didn’t think it all the way through. The cashier was holding my change, so she automatically deducted the dollar. I said, “Hey, that’s my dollar,” and she said, “Didn’t you want to give it to charity?” and I said, “Well, yes … never mind,” and from that moment on, I made it a point to only pay for movie theater concessions in exact change. That way it could be a very simple, “Donate?” “Yes!” and then, “Goodbye!” walking away, me not having had to give up a dollar, but also not having had to say no either.
While the previews were playing, I started mentally laying out the contents of the first issue of Yes! Obviously I’d include the dollar charity trick. But what about some more tricky situations? Like, what if you’re waiting tables and some guy’s like, “Hey waiter, does this cheeseburger have peanuts in it? I’m allergic to peanuts.” It doesn’t have peanuts. But I’ve made a commitment to say yes!
Or what if I’m walking down the street and I hear a commotion behind me, “Hey! You! Stop! Wait!” and I turn around and some guy just totally barrels into me. We both fall to the ground, he’s holding a purse, he gets up, leaves the purse in my arms and then takes off running again. Two seconds later a police officer runs right up to me, lying on the ground, holding this purse, he shouts at me, “Did you steal that purse?”
What do I say? How do I get out of a jam like that? Maybe I shouldn’t have taken such a strict yes-to-the-universe vow. Shouldn’t I have left in a little elbow room for maybe just a few exceptional “No!” scenarios? Yes?