No, no, no.
I have a routine. A carefully developed way of working. It goes like this:
Turn on the classical radio station. Pour cheap green tea into my History of Art mug. Sit on the couch at 8:30am. Write.
Do simple, honest words always find their way onto the page? No. But it’s the closest I’ve come to some kind of regular arrival at creativity.
And now it can’t happen. They’re doing work in the apartment. My routine will be tramped over by heavy boots and banged over by big hammers. And I am resisting all of this.
Later? Can’t it happen later? I ask. Nope, needs to happen now, they say. You’re serving me some unsolicited change, I want to say. And no, no, no, I want to say.
I fight it hard. If I just get ear plugs and if they just hammer quietly and if we both just try to keep things exactly as they are – is how my desperate thinking goes – maybe this won’t be so bad.
And these are all just no’s dressed in different clothing. No, don’t mess with my routine. No, don’t stuff change down my throat. No, future, don’t come.
My neck, my shoulders, my mind are tense and tight all the time from clutching onto everything that was, shoving away everything that will be.
And one night in bed, I get fed up with it. Get fed up with the tense and the tight and the big resisting fight. There’s got to be another way to be with this, I think. No isn’t serving me here.
Which reminds me somehow of something the diplomat/author Dag Hammarskjöld once wrote: “For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.”
And that night in bed with Yes newly on my mind, I begin to feel looser where I’d been tight, more open where I’d been closed, even a little hopeful where I’d been fearful.
The change will not be instant. When the hammers and the boots come, when the couch is unavailable and the classical radio station can’t drown out the noise, the resistance will come back again and again.
And when it does, I say to myself three times, four times, more times, a few simple, honest words:
Yes. Yes to the hammers and the heavy boots. Yes to messing with my routine and unsolicited change.
And yes, double yes, to the future.