“I imagine that yes is the only living thing.” ~ e.e. cummings
Last month, I moved out of the house I had lived in for over 20 years.
A fresh start was waiting for me, but first I needed to pack away not only our possessions for the movers, but also my own memories. As I placed each item in a box, wrapping them in newspaper, I was filing away memories in the photo album of my mind.
I realized that, in the end, there were only a handful of things that I couldn’t bring with me—you can’t pack words—or a ceiling, for that matter.
In late 2006, I read a post on a food blog, Gluten-Free Girl, that had nothing at all to do with food. I’m sure that thousands of people had read that blog post, but I felt as though it had been written for me, somehow speaking to a part of me that had been asleep for so long that I had forgotten it was there.
At that time, my health and life were crashing down around me faster than I could pick up the pieces. I needed something to grasp onto in order to keep me afloat, to keep me from sinking into darkness, to keep me fighting and to keep the light within me alive.
I found that something in that blog post, where the author told the story of John Lennon meeting Yoko Ono for the first time. With that story began an obsession with the word that brought them together:
“But there was another piece that really decided me for-or-against the artist: a ladder which led to a painting which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a black canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. This was near the door when you went in. I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says ‘yes.’ So it was positive. I felt relieved. It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say ‘no’ or ‘f**k you’ or something, it said ‘yes.'”
And thus, my obsession with the word yes was born.
So, in 2006, when my health was falling apart and my life was in the balance, I found myself penciling this onto my bedroom ceiling. For 10 years, that was the first thing I saw when I woke up and the last thing I saw when I went to sleep.
The word became a connection to the way I wanted to live my life.
At first it felt like a slap in the face: what exactly was I saying yes to? But, as the days passed and I let myself open up to the word scrawled on the plaster above me, I soon found out that opening myself up to the power of yes meant so much more that I had anticipated.
It meant that I was always open to life.
Since I began to consistently embrace positive affirmations, I haven’t looked back.
My life wouldn’t be the same without the mighty force of that unsuspecting little three-letter word behind me—and above me. The word has a meaning and a power and life unto itself. The word yes is magic and mystery all wrapped up in a brown paper package. It is what led me onto the path of positive self-talk. It taught me how to maintain a healthy mental attitude.
Seeing yes on my ceiling every morning inspired me to find perspective in my life, each and every day.
Some days, I was so sick, I couldn’t get out of bed—but reading that word kept me fighting anyway. Then on my good days, it had me leaping out of bed, ready to take on the world. In many ways, that word on my ceiling saved me.
I am weirdly obsessed with the fact that it is the smallest positive affirmation in the English language.
Think about that for just a moment: The word itself is inherently positive; these three unassuming letters strung together in that particular order are the shortest and most direct route to a positive statement that can be made in the entire language.
And although I couldn’t pack that word on my ceiling, it’s okay—because I realized that I didn’t need it any longer. I have learned to live it, even without seeing it physically.
Maybe the next people to move in will one day see something on that ceiling, and they’ll bring in a small ladder to read what it says. And when they do, I hope that yes helps them as much as it’s helped me.
Maybe they’ll wonder why it’s there. But, occasionally, I dance away from reality and imagine that they’ll know the story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and hope that they’ll smile at the joke.
Author: Molly Murphy
Image: flickr/ Abhi
Apprentice Editor: Natalia Lusinski; Editor: Renée Picard