Now and again you just have to say yes. You find yourself in an alien situation and you open the future for no understandable reason to a stranger, a situation, an opportunity by just saying yes. Yes has to be one of the most powerful words out in the human vocabulary. It’s short. In every language I’ve learned the word it’s always clipped and to the point. A sharp syllable appropriate for rallying cries and gasped responses.
Saying yes to the foreign and the unknown can be difficult. It must be practiced, consciously. Make the decision once and resolve to stay with it. The more times you have to say yes to the same decision, the more chances you have to run. If you’re in a program, a structure, a foreign country even, where there’s no where to run, you have to stay and face it, on some level. The crucible is often needed. It can be worth it, to design our own crucibles, like a ten mile hike out, and ten miles back still facing us, forcing us to push the boundaries.
There are many ways to run away from yes even after you’ve said. Think of the social parties you’ve attended where you found the one person you knew and didn’t talk to anyone else. I’ve seen study abroad students who were always running to the local MacDonald’s when there was perfectly good local food across the street. Walking through popular tourist destinations, I’ve witnessed large bands of tourists traveling in mass, talking to each other in loud voices completely missing out on the local interactions as they bussed themselves through high level attractions and back to their chain hotel. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a place for mass tours and lots of reasons to recommend chain hotels when traveling in unfamiliar territory. But if that’s all you do, then you’re not saying yes. You’re window shopping the exotic. The foreign is being well contained behind the glass of your tourist budget.
As you’re reading this today, think about saying yes. Smile at someone in the coffee shop. Trade comments on the weather with that lady standing in front of you in line. Ask the back packing couple in the airport where they’ve been. Volunteer when you see the flyer. Take that vacation day, go to the fair, the community meeting, or that workshop. Step outside the assigned route on the tour. See what you run into.
I’ve never regretted walking up to someone and asking their name. I have, however, wondered about the people I’ve been too scared to approach, the connections I didn’t follow through on, the places I was too tired to visit.
Try it. Say yes.