It was a stupid high school theater game. For warm-ups we would stand in a circle and give one line of a scene or a story per person. You would step into the circle as you gave your line, and as you stepped out everyone was supposed to shout (in unison, although that rarely happened), “Yes, and…” before the next person was up. It was supposed to get us to think outside the box, silence our voice of judgment, and create safe and collaborative community.
Turns out it wasn’t really a stupid game. Yes and…has been everywhere lately.
I feel a charging readiness for something that is not here yet. My muscles and nerves have been rung out and filled and rung out again in the last year. My heart has embraced questions and contradictions like food. My brain is so hungry for raw material with which to make connections that I cannot take in information fast and contemplatively enough to satisfy. Far from exasperating, to walk this almost-not-quite edge is a lesson in fascination, like being in the shower the moment before the water goes from lukewarm to icy. You have another few seconds before something is expected of you: jump out with teeth chattering or welcome this shocking sharpness.
This yes and readiness doesn’t feel like the sarcasm of the jaded, the mockery of the self-righteous, or the boredom of the list maker. It is an invitation. An invitation to keep the door open to the next breath and the one after that. Tonight I contemplate the death of a former colleague who just lost a secret battle with late stage stomach cancer. I see his curly brown hair and Tigger-like bounce step. He would gesticulate wildly with his hands and shout, “Yes, and….” I look at my new haircut, even shorter than the original hacking off back in February. It is not quite buzzed, but paired with my new purple Mr. Magoo glasses it is dramatic. The face is mine but I don’t recognize it. All I hear is, “Yes, and….” The last book I finished was entitled The Crack in the Cosmic Egg. My latest book shows up in the mail with the picture of a cracked egg on it. The first words might as well have been, “Yes, and….”
I even hear it in my summer campers. That’s right, I have gone from eye-rolling teenagers to little kids who bite each other, tattle about everything, and can not wash their hands without help. But you know what they can do? Create like nobody’s business. Create like their fucking hair is on fire but they don’t care because there is a truck full of free candy parked outside their house. I was playing Battleship this week with a first grader named Matthew when this conversation happened.
“You know what we should do? We should use the marbles from the Mancala board and use them as protection spells for our ships.” Being no slouch when it comes to creation, I was able to hang with him on this part. “I like that, it will be like we created a whole new game. What should we call it?”
“Battleforce Awakens.” Seriously took him less than two seconds. I said okay and we continued to play, but soon things got tricky. “G3,” I said.
“Hit, I mean miss.”
“Well was it a hit or a miss?” I questioned.
“It would have been a hit but I have my blue marbles around it so it isn’t.”
“But I had my blue marbles around a ship that you sunk just five minutes ago.”
“Yes, but they weren’t dark blue marbles, they were all kinds of blue and you did not have them in the right spot under the fortress (a business card holder he was using from the desk) so they could gain power.” At this his coach he recruited nodded solemnly.
“So if I call G3 again then it’s a hit because I disabled the force field?”
I was missing the point. Trying to figure out the rules in a made up game left me no time to marvel that he was creating whole new systems of reality on the fly. He was giving me yes and, but I stopped with yes. I stopped with yes (I needed to write it again to hear myself say it again).
I am not afraid that I will miss the next step, whether it is hopping on a plane to go live in Paris or playing a game of Bop-It-Red-Rover-Tag. I no longer wonder, like I did this year, how much I would be willing to sacrifice to find a me that is more authentic, more sustainable. I am in my life more than I have ever been. It may sound silly to some, but for a creature of habit like myself, the fact that I am willing to give up my “summer break” for an early rising job that is 50% sheer boredom, tells me everything I need to know about my sincerity regarding Delaney Walkabout.
I am waiting, with night-before-Christmas faith sweat, for presents to be delivered.