I Am A Yes Man

This morning my eyes opened up at 6:00am as they are conditioned to do every day for work, but my body was in no condition at all to get out of bed.  I knew that if I didn’t force myself to go back to bed to get a few more hours of sleep, I could not use my precious unplanned Saturday to restore myself back to the normal person I once was just a few weeks ago.  You see, I’m a yes man, and a yes man needs at least one day out of the week to do absolutely nothing but rest.  And living the life of a yes man can bring a lot of excitement and adventure, but sometimes at a detrimental cost, which is extreme tiredness and irritability.

A yes man says yes to many opportunities or proposals that are presented to him.  In the romantic comedy of the same name, the story begins with the actor James Carrey playing a guy named Carl Allen who is always saying “no” to everything.  He signs up for a self-help program based on the premise of simply saying “yes” to everything.  This transforms his life and he gets to the point where he can only say yes to everything.  A lot of amazing and unexpected things happen to him along the way, but of course, he ends up getting so exhausted that he can no longer function.  During his “yes” adventures, he takes classes in Korean and is able to speak with a Korean storeowner, blind dates an arabic woman in full Muslim garb, role-plays at a Harry Potter-themed party, learns how to play the guitar, which helps him save a suicidal guy’s life, and meets the girl of his dreams who simply falls in love with him due to his zest for experiencing everything that life has to offer.  Towards the end of the film, he realizes that he cannot always say yes to absolutely everything because there are some things that a person genuinely doesn’t want to do.

Yes Man poster art.

For whatever the reason, I’m the kind of person who tries to find a reason to do something rather than a reason NOT to do something.  It may be rooted in wanting to please my own mother or to feed a need to help others, or simply it could be to please the adventurous side of me that wants to continue to do things in life that I have never done before, or it can be a combination of all of these things.  Or it may be that I have a very serious case of joie de vivre.  Whatever the reason, often saying yes to opportunities and requests from friends has brought me to new and exciting adventures in life, helped me make a lot of new friends and has taught me to open my mind to a world without limitations.  But my mom thinks I’m nuts to do as much as I do in my life and I agree with her.  I am often tired from doing as much as I do and my tiredness shows.  But being a yes man is addictive for me and I just can’t stop it.

When my daughter was a little girl, my yes man ways became apparent when she said this to me, “Daddy, you are different than Mommy; where she often says ‘no’, most of the time, you say ‘yes’ and sometimes ‘maybe'”.

Here are a bunch of interesting and crazy things I have done in my life where my yes man attitude has compelled me to make these things happen:

  • I participated in a police line-up to make some extra money
  • I took a course in Chinese in college for no other reason but for the challenge
  • I portrayed a naked dead guy in a Law & Order: SVU episode
  • I learned to play the piano
  • I’m the publicity director of my running club
  • I’ve raised over $4,000 for my running club’s scholarship fund
  • I’m the President of my condo building
  • I’ve smoked cigarettes for film and TV roles (I’m a non-smoker)
  • I’m a den leader of my son’s boy scout troop
  • I saved a shark’s life
  • I performed stand-up comedy at a comedy club
  • I saved several kittens’ lives
  • I participate in the polar bear plunge every January 1 at Coney Island.
  • I was a marathon pacer
  • I drove cross-country for an entire week with a film crew playing the body-double of a well-known actor
  • I started the process to donate my kidney to a friend who desperately needed a new one.  Unfortunately my blood type was different than his and I was not a match.
  • I performed surgery on a horseshoe crab

Just looking at the list above is dizzying to me and upon reflection, I almost don’t believe that I actually did these things.  I sometimes question myself why I do them.  But my answer to myself is always this: because life is short and you only have one life to live.

Being involved in helping others gives me great satisfaction when I know that my help  may have benefitted them in some way.  A friend of mine recently asked me to help teach her how to pace her runs using proper pacing techniques.  I made a customized pacing strip for her and ran with her for five miles using a pacing strip and a stopwatch.  A few weeks later, she was able to break her half marathon personal record by 17 minutes.  While this achievement was all her doing, I would like to think that I may have had a little to do with helping her achieve this amazing feat.  And it all started when she asked me to help pace her and I replied, “yes”.

My Saturday of doing nothing all day is almost over.  I am now well-rested, recharged, and at peace with myself.  I think I’m ready to experience another week of being a yes man.