Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Life of No

No. It's been around for centuries, though I can really only say much about its impact on my lifetime. So, let’s start there...

In my teenage years, No meant No. That was when I began to ponder this word that's short in stature, but quite omnipotent. Two letters. Stop the presses. Simply say "No" and that will suffice. I respected this word. I even used the word and expected action to cease. Perfectly pithy.

But then, like a curious four-year old, No became followed by why. No. Why? Now, let me say that I'm not opposed to the why, but it's not a post-requisite for the No, simply a means to better understand the No. The why is offered at the whim of the No. In reality, the why opens up the door to interpret the No, which is not always a good idea, especially when the recipient of the No disagrees with the No.

Therefore, to counteract the asking of why, No-givers have begun to not just say no, but to say, "No, and here’s why" in an attempt to cover every possible why that could ever be asked. And, the No often covers all temporal states of the No.

• The Past: You should have said so sooner.
• The Present: I’m not ready for this.
• The Future: I don’t know where I’ll be.

No more pith. No now enjoys maximum verbosity. No takes the stage, soaks up the lights and basks in soliloquy. No. No-no-no-no-no-no. Imperviously overabundant.

It has become a no-no. (shakes finger back and forth). It's time to say, "I heard you the first time, thanks," and move on. Let No return to one simple word with the unspoken why: it's just not right for me. The verbose No serves to undermine the credibility of the No itself; it invites criticism. "It's just not right for me," leaves nothing left to debate.

Now, as I grow older, I expect my No to resist the temptation to assert itself. Saying no just to say no will eventually become passé. Why? Because we’ll take the time to think about why we'd say no instead of simply reacting with the No because we don’t know. No fear.

I've come to believe that we're always ready for the Yes, when the Yes is what's right. And, we often have to think about the Yes before we know. Start from the Yes and seek reasons to say no. You know?

I’ll say no more. Will you?