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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Yes of No

In some ways these 14 days since Linda’s double hip-replacement felt like some of the most grueling of my life.  Doubts.  Worries.  Cabin fever.  Loneliness.  Exhaustion.  Ragged sleep.   And yet they've also been some of the best, in part because I did what I do best. 

Ruthless prioritization.  For good or for ill, I feel the thrill of saying no.  And no is what these 14 days are all about.  No work, no projects, no conversations, unless  relevant to the task at hand:  healing Linda.  I've come to understand that I’m peculiar in my affinity for no.  And a few months ago I discovered why.
During an incredibly engaging conversation with my friend Bob, he asked me something no one had ever asked before.  “How are you thinking about our conversation?  Not what, mind you, but how?”  I must have stared blankly for several long minutes.  “I see no words.  No solid images either,” I finally tried to explain my thoughts.  “I feel what can only be described as a vortex of energy.   Some things swirl toward the front:  the epiphanies of our conversation, the warmth I feel with you right now.  To these I say yes.  And at the same time there’s an equal and opposite reaction,  the wind of no thrusting out the back of the vortex, propelling me forward like a rocket toward the yes.   Just what it is I’m going to say no to isn't clear yet.  But it will be when the time comes.  The decision is already made.”

We’d never have said yes to Home the Land Built without saying no to so many things.  No to my career at Medtronic.  No to my neighbors and house in Minneapolis.  No to expensive vacations.  Even long ago, when we said no to having children.  All these things allowed me to shout “Yes!” to Home the Land Built.

“How’s the book coming?” my friend Sarah asked this week.  It took no small amount of energy to firmly recall the novel I’d worked on every day for the past 8 years, the novel I’d committed to self-publishing by Easter.  “Haven’t really given it much thought,” I shrugged.  Apparently even the novel was expelled in the wind of no.  The decision was already made.  Ruthless prioritization.  To what end?

To the yes of no. 

To engage so fully---to say no to everything else and say yes to Linda’s recovery--- is worthy of a novel itself.  The terror of her post-surgery low blood pressure.   The thrill of her rising onto her feet.    
The wee-hour dance of me and Linda, of nurse and patient.  The problem-solving fun of configuring the composting toilet for Linda (and it worked!).   
And today, to witness as her own legs pushed down and closed the recliner.  She’s free!  We’re both free.  She can sit and stand at will AND I---no longer required to free her from the chair---need not sleep in the couch next to her.  Tonight I will sleep in our own blessed bed.

Yesterday Linda suggested I take a walk.  And so I did.  My first since the surgery.  I’m not too proud to admit that I wept as I walked the trail, where golden prairie Indian grass meets hedgerow boxelder, sparrows flitting and chirping in the naked branches.  The Land missed me and I her!  This morning’s fog, a blanket of no upon our view saying yes to the miracles inside Home the Land Built.

OK.  Maybe that wouldn't make much of a page-turner.  Not for you.  But for me, its priceless.  Gripping.  Its my reward.  I've no doubt that Linda will not only recover but---for the first time since we've moved---fully engage the Land.  And Linda and I will dance as never before, upon the green, green grasses of June.

The yes of no.   I've felt it.  I feel it now.  I’m propelling toward its light-filled future.


  1. I'm thrilled to hear that Linda is rising to her feet on her own. You share so much of yourself Mike. thank you.
    Love, Karen

  2. Did you publish your book? I want to read it!

    1. Not yet. I'd hoped to have it self-published by Easter, but our transition to nurse and patient took more, much more, than I could imagine. June 1?

      Thanks for your interest. I'll be sure to let you know when its released, a day I excitedly and nervously await.