I propose ridiculous rationales as to why we had the boat on the river only six times.
The grand-girls kept us busy.
The water was high.
The water was rough.
The weather was too windy.
The temperature was too cold.
The grass needed mowed.
We had too many appointments.
I had to shop for groceries.
Even in October, we waited futilely for agreeable conditions. The timing never aligned with our schedules. So we pulled our boat out of the water, officially ending the Cygnet’s 2019 season. I contend we had reasons, not excuses, justifications if you will.
Don’t misunderstand; the St. Lawrence could not be more important in our lives. I’ve crossed it, gazed upon it, written about it, and felt its hypnotic spell every day. In fact, Paul has logged in about 300 hours fishing with our son, Reed, in his boat. The river is not the issue here. Neither is the Cygnet. Every time we cruised down the channel and around the islands, we agreed that having the Cygnet is priceless. We might tell ourselves that the issue is time, but that is false. We always find time for what we want the most. Have we really lost energy and motivation for boating? I vehemently opposed that argument when we bought the boat.
Make a Choice
My friend Edana recently observed, “Saying no to something means saying yes to something else.” Clearly, we have little control over many of life’s episodes, but our actions with regard to those events might be guided by yes and no decisions. Even when we choose to equivocate, we are saying no to our power of choice. Really, I could ponder all the repercussions of every yes and no decision I’ve ever made. I’ve done that before; haven’t we all? But that would be saying yes to the past and no to the future. See how it works?
Facing life through a series of yes and no choices could help me get the most value from each day. Okay, so if every day is filled with yes and no options, how to proceed? So far I’ve done it like this. No, I don’t need an alarm; daybreak will wake me. Yes, I’ll drink coffee every morning for two hours. Yes, it’s a beautiful day, I’ll take a walk. All day rain? Yes, I’ll read my book. Those delightful experiences occur exactly because I say no to cleaning, laundry, yard work, and shopping. Granted, retirement provides much more flexibility than full-time employment.
Weigh the Options
As it turns out timing might be a factor. Over the summer I said yes to painting class when that Wednesday was the perfect boat-day. Book Club meets Thursday evenings, which conflicts with the one evening we spend each week with the grand-girls. So, no-go to Book Club. But yes to reading the books. It’s unwise to say no to dental or doctor appointments. I can only procrastinate for so long regarding automobile inspection. But an absolute yes to the hair appointment. Perhaps yes and no has its complexities, after all.
When I retired I made a chart of the people, endeavors, and goals I hoped to have in my life. Ideally, only choices related to that framework get a yes. The key is to always have meaningful options, right? I fool myself. I say yes to the easiest actions. So I have plenty of things I intend to do, but don’t. I have not embarked on the larger objectives. After all these months of oil-painting classes, I’ve not begun a new painting in almost a year. And what about the book I imagined starting? Saying yes to time-consuming commitments will require no to many more. I’ll know when I’m ready.
Setting priorities expedites choice. Summer is short. In the future, the Cygnet gets precedence over year-round pastimes. And when I say no, the yes activity should be just as valuable, or more so. Next season the Cygnet will elicit a yes over grass-mowing and grocery shopping.
Situations shift, life evolves. Yes and no choices must reflect those changes. The key is to decide what really counts in life at every turn. Disregard what others think, what the rules used to be, or what those voices in your head admonish you to do. Use the personal power of yes and no.