Becoming a Yes Man

Sometimes as I climb the stairs with a basket of laundry, I stop and look at the photos hanging on the wall—photos of the remarkable dunes of Sossusvlei, of children walking through the rain in Sapa, of a frog clinging to a reed in the Okavango Delta, of the bright red sail of a dow in Mozambique—and I marvel that I was there, that I did that.

Life, at least mine, has a way of keeping you in the here and now. Sure, there are moments for reminiscing. There are smells and sounds that trigger memories. There are people, few now but still some, that ask to hear stories about the year we spent wandering in the world. But most of the time, the concern is for the present. Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of life here, life now, it’s easy to think that that one year was an aberration, that we went off-radar for a year and then popped back on-radar a year later picking up right where we left off. Between runs to Target to purchase toothpaste and days spent raking leaves in the backyard, it’s quite possible to think that our adventure had no lasting impact on us.

But that would be false. Our trip changed us in many ways. It certainly made us view the world differently. It made us more appreciative of what we have. It made us more aware of what is possible. In ways both big and small—neuronal even—our trip affected us, no doubt. To me, the most noticeable effect of our trip is that it turned us into “Yes Men.”

No, not those type of Yes Men, not pushovers or followers or hanger-ons or stooges, but more like the Jim Carey version of a Yes Man, a person who says yes to every opportunity. Before we went on the trip, we (and especially I, if we’re being honest) always had a lot of excuses for not doing things. “I’m not going to know anyone there” or “If we don’t do laundry tonight, we’re not going to have a single pair of clean underwear” or “I wish I’d known ahead of time” or “That’s a lot of driving for just a few hours of being there” escaped my lips on multiple occasions.

But now, well now, I’m more likely to say “What the hell.” Now, when a neighbor I’ve never met shows up at our door with an invitation to a housewarming party, we say yes, even though we’re not going to know a person there. Now, when a neighbor throws some hamburgers on the grill and invites us over for an impromptu barbecue, we say yes, even if I have chicken thawing in the refrigerator. Now, when a graduate student we meet at a university function suggests we join them for trivia night at the local pub, we say yes, though we’ve only exchanged a few minutes worth of conversation with him. Now, when Jon Stewart throws a rally in D.C., we get in the car and go, even if we’re going to drive a total of 8 hours in order to be there for just 24 hours.

You see, what we learned on our trip is that life is the here and the now—regardless of whether that here and now is a January morning at the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu or a November night at Bull McCabe’s pub in downtown Durham, North Carolina—and the best way we can live that life, that here and now, is to say “yes” to it, even if sometimes that means we have to go commando the next day.

5 Replies to “Becoming a Yes Man”

  1. This is an awesome post! I feel the same way about our travels and how they affected me (your commando line reminded me of a time while studying abroad we hopped on a bus to Estonia for four days and left all our stuff at the Russian dorm. We had gone to the bus station planning to buy a ticket for the next but the only open seats were on a bus that left within the hour. Fortunately in Tallin they had stores that sold toothbrushes and underwear!)

  2. Did you ever read the actual book by Danny Wallace? If not, I suggest you go forth and read it now! It’s so inspiring and funny and makes you want to have the ability to see a flyer for a trip to Singapore and book the ticket on the spot.

  3. I love this! Too often before we left, I would use excuses like the above to not do things. Going on this trip has made me realize I am more of a homebody than I thought, but that putting yourself out there often results in the best rewards.

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