I Used to be a No Guy but Now I’m a Yes Man

I lived with a man whose no was in the middle of his heart, whose no kept him thin as a bone and stole the juices from him. 

— Bradshaw in Howard Barker’s Victory

When I first read Howard Barker’s play, Victory, it made me angry. It was an angry, abusive, roaring text that made me want to throw it across the room. It was confronting from the first word and never let up. In fact, 20 years later, here I find myself quoting it.

You see, it’s got me thinking. There’s much to be said for the word “no”. I’ve loved its power and its brutal, abrupt ending-ness. I’ve loved being the No Guy.

But “no” is about knowing – and these days I feel like I know less. And no is about resistance and opposition. It’s about stopping.

“Yes” on the other hand takes courage. No takes conviction. With a yes, you don’t set a direction, you go where life takes you. The no roots you to the spot while the world revolves around and past you.

Now, I’m sure no will make a comeback for me. But for the present, yes represents challenge and opportunity. And it seems more than a little confronting to a world that has every reason not to change. What about you?

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