Monday, March 16, 2009

Seeking the Eternal Yes

Last night I watched E.M. Foster's A Room with a View. There is a scene in which one of the characters, George Emerson, "declares his eternal yes" (so sorry, the clip cuts out right before the hot kiss. Damn.)

If you haven't the faintest of what I am referring to, go put A Room with a View in your Netflix queue. You will be in for an enchanting delight that will have you speaking in a British accent all through afternoon tea. Yes, yes, I know I sound ridiculous. But that is exactly how this will make you feel; wonderfully ridiculous and useless like a leetle Eeenglish lassy, especially if you are without love and play tennis with your ambiguous brother. OK, better yet, I think we should both go check out the novel at the library. (Note to self: Return Bigfoot book when visiting Walker library for the second time, ever.)

In a addition to now wanting to strap on a corset and officially change my name to Lucy Honeychurch, this story left me with an effervescent glee as it concludes with (and I don't want to ruin it for you, so names shall be left out) two young lovers making out on a window sill overlooking the River Arno an the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Ah, love! Ah! The Simple times of oppressed Edwardian England! Ah! Blood letting!

Ahem. (Btw, I feel as though I should have a kerchief and some pince nez as I blog this one out – it's feeling like this post is not quite matching my brand image, but, onward, horses, onward...) My friend Jeff viewed this film with me and we discussed many aspects of why we found it to be so uplifting and relaxing to watch on a Sunday night. Considering the fact that we are both suckers for a little history or period piece is beside the point. No, even someone who enjoys Will Smith movies could squeeze a little enchantment out of A Room with a View.

There is something about the aspect of possibility, of the The-world-is-your-oyster-ness that one gets from observing the odd character of George Emerson and his "declaring of the eternal yes." He is so in love with Miss Honeychurch, despite the fact that Miss Honeychurch is engaged to marry Cecil (O, the names! Pet names abound, at the very least). Jeff and I thought that the extravagance and frivolity were downright refreshing in comparison to our current times of financial doomsday despair. I was anxious about writing a PowerPoint, but here Miss Honeychurch is on holiday, getting pawed in a poppy field by a strange man while her white lace dress and thick brown curls float in the Italian breeze.

Mmm, Deliciouso...

Oops! Pardon. I dropped my parasol.

Butterfly characters like Lucy, Charlotte and Cecil (yes, the dude) are so feminine, so educated, so pale, so... utterly useless. Oh, to be born in more frivolous times. And, well, with a sh**load of money, too.

[Oh, yes. Now I am going to get a little more weird – which I know is what you like, anyway. So, I just switched from listening to Muse on my iTunes and started listening to opera on the radio. I found I just HAD to listen to some opera after watching that movie clip. When, I ask you, when, is the last time I listened to opera? Maybe it was when my dad and I received free tickets to see Carmen at The Ordway a few years ago. I remember that my dad and I shared two different kinds of cake during intermission. It was awesome. More recently, I guess I heard some opera during that short scene in Milk where Sean Penn goes to a performance by himself, and then he hears it again before the end, but anyway. I am totally loving this. I am throughly enjoying listening to opera in my pajamas in the middle of a Monday midnight. Listening to this is like eating Tiramisu when you have only really tried it half a dozen times in the past, but now, as your tastes have matured and you have devloped a palate for rum, you suddenly really like Tiramisu. That is what listening to opera is like for me right at this moment. It is like eating Tiramisu the first time you realize you actually like it.]

Where am I going with this and what is up with the creepy close up hand photo? Well, this Oui necklace was a recent "frivolous" purchase from I seem to be purchasing many frivolous things lately – jewelry, make-up, clothes. I have none of the pragmatism of my new heroine, Miss Lucy Honeychurch. I shall work on that, I shall, I shall.

Look at me, I am like a Norwegian kicking around a liquor bottle outside of the Moulin Rouge. I am like a German Shepherd sniffing in circles for the ideal spot to squat. I... Am... Stalling.

I suppose it is because for some reason this seems to be a difficult topic for me. In fact, this attempt to write about it is causing me to feel disoriented and I am also developing a distinct craving for a slice of Tiramisu with a glass Jameson over a candlelit ménage a deux (or trois, depending on the vibe). Now that would be lovely.

I don't even know how to explain what I mean (which is a rarity for a talker like me, I'll tell yuh), but let me give this a shot. What I mean to explore through this writing is about what my philosophical and psychologically-inclined dad likes to talk about when I am plagued with potty mouth.

It is the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. The idea of visualizing our past, future, or current circumstances and perhaps unknowingly manipulating our fate based on our positive or negative expectations or beliefs.

What the fu$#?


Lemme back up. I was talking with my friend Steve tonight, and I was ranting and raving about things I think I deserve in my life that I do not have. It does not matter what these things are, because it is a fill-in-the-blank equation.

If only I had more ______________, I would feel more ______________, and therefore be more______________. I would be able to _______________, _________________, and __________________.

Try that out. It's fun to fill in the blanks. You know, I think I may have just created the first life-coaching Mad Libs for responsible grown-ups. Well slap a trademark on that baby and call me the next Anthony Robbins.

One of the things that Steve eloquently pointed out to me about my current unmet desires is that there is a range of possible outcomes awaiting should I decide to go and seek out what it is that I want. As he was reciting possible reactions to my request, something pivotal occurred to me:

I always expect the answers in life to be No. I exist in this world with the weight of the eternal No instead of the eternal Yes.

  • Do I think I did a good job at the presentation today? (Well, yes, but, no because there was this, this, and this...)
  • Do I think I will ever be out of debt? (No way! Debt is your destiny and you can never seem to run away from it without it catching up to you and clamping it's callused hand on your shoulder, ready to drag you back)
  • Do I think I am, in general, safe? (Well, I suppose, but, no because you could always blah or your blah could get in an accident or, of course, crash, explode, collapse, and don't forget that you could become sick with blah)
  • Do I ever think I will find a partner in life? (NO! Are you joking? You must be the most unlucky person to attract so many people only to turn them away. No, definitely no, nope, nopers)
  • Will I ever achieve my dream? Will I contribute anything of significance to this spinning planet? (Probs not. You make a lot of grammatical and spelling errors)
And on, and on, and on.

The Self-fulfilling Prophecy would say that this "No, Can't, Won't" Debbie Downer attitude will actually change the course of my life so that whatever I believe to be true will eventually become the Truth. It will become my reality. Our attitudes affect our outcomes.

The Secret is a popular book and film that hones in on this idea of receiving whatever we attract. It is about the power of positive attraction. The idea is, if we expect things to turn out positively, we will actually have some kind of positive effect.

Why am I turning this into some Public Television fundraising drive message? (Well, feels that way a bit). I have just had this little thought, that, what if always expecting the answers in this world to be No, what if I expected that the answers and the outcomes to seeking my desires would always be Yes?

How would my life change if I learned to expect a world of Yesses instead of Noses? (I like that alternate spelling, so we are just going to go with it, K).

Well, things would change for sure. I would have a different job, I would love somebody who loved me back, I would sleep and remember what it is like to have flying dreams instead of just dreams of computer screens. I would take my proverbial seat belt off and move about the cabin. I would unquestionably give beggars something out of my purse instead of sliding by in my analytical excuse mode. I would spend more time with the people whom I actually enjoy, and I would waste less smiles and courtesies on the wicked.

I can't help but think of Yoko Ono's 1966 work of art, Ceiling Painting, which required the viewer to climb a ladder, then look through a magnifying glass to where on the ceiling was a framed piece of paper with one written word: YES. John Lennon was later famously quoted after his first viewing of the piece, saying, "I would have been quite disappointed if it had said 'NO,' but was saved by the fact that it said 'YES.'"


It is a powerful, affirming, and optimistic word. I cannot help but get caught up in the Pop-Psychology fed to us in programs like The Secret. If I really, truly, digest this concept – to adopt the outlook that the answers to the things in life which I seek will be Yes... Well, if I really think about it, the possibilities seem endless.

My pessimistic gut quivers and says back, "That's all good and fine, but what happens when you are expecting a Yes and what you end up with is a big, fat No? What then? The higher your expectations, the harder you will fall. Best protect yourself and expect nothing. Better off expecting a life of No's. You will get less hurt that way."

The only calming advice I come up with to tell my gut is this:
"Gut, look, you and I have known each other for 28 years. And we have been through quite a lot together. No, no, Gut, I am not talking about that incident with the food poisoning, but yes, that was bad. Gut, what I want you to know is that you may be right about us becoming disappointed if we start hoping for Yesses and all we get are Noses. But Gut, if we get a No, we are no worse off if what we were expecting was a Yes. In fact, we will be better equipped to tackle the next attempt at what we desire because we will be all loosened up and ready to go with that Yes thinking. Trust me, Gut, all this No has got to go. Now, let's go eat some ice cream."

Declaring my eternal Yes,

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