Poets give each other weird gifts. About ten or so years ago, a friend of mine gifted me with a chewy metaphor that I’ve gnawed on for a while now.
He said he thought that, at birth, every person got issued two infinitely expandable notebooks. He said one of the books was a YES-book and the other was a NO-book.
I imagined them to be like the kind I use for making my journals but with automatic pages or something that appear as you write on them so you don’t end up with mountains and libraries of journals.
I don’t know how the things stay small enough for us to carry around but since the books are invisible, maybe they don’t weigh anything.
We carry these things around with us through all of our born days and as we live our lives the books fill up with hacks, tips, resolutions and conclusions that other people dump in there to help us suss out the world.
Often, these other-people blatherings are not particularly pertinent or useful, but, hey…they care. That’s good, right?
The records of the explorations and adventures that each of us do along our own life-paths also end up in there. Sometimes these quests of ours bode to be epic and huge. Sometimes they are just trips to the grocery store that went sort of sideways.
According to my friend, each of us can consciously access our personal YES-book and NO-book and use the stuff in them to build the frameworks of our lives in ways that can work well for us.
He opined that the books affect us and the way we walk whether we refer back to them and look through them, ruminate and cogitate on what’s in them, and then do some move or other that adds more pages to either our own YES-book or NO-Book…or not.
They’re a bit creepy, those books.
Like a collection of maps and blueprints, our YES-books and our NO-books help us find our way.
SOME FOOLING AROUND AND FANTASIZING
As a metaphor, I thought the thing was pretty cool.
We all know people who have big YES-books and small NO-books. They are always up for an adventure, always trying out new stuff, always opening every door and climbing through all kinds of windows and such.
Some of these people are absolutely unsinkable. They’ve got the improv-thing down and they are magnificent change agents as well.
Others with the really big YES-books and very much smaller NO-books may tend to get sucked into all kinds of mishaps – sometimes interesting, but often dumb — and they may be prone to broken heads and hearts and things like that.
(Sometimes they seem to really be a bunch of airheads.)
We all know people who have big NO-books and smaller YES-books. They are good at not-doing. They are really good at reading situations and getting the timing right. They don’t mess up quite so much, it seems.
They’re often massively self-disciplined and canny as all get-out. Mastery is their game and they’re on-focus. They’ve got well-defined boundaries and Teflon shields and some of them can approach a relentless sort of awesomeness.
If the NO-books get huge and the YES-books get tiny, some of these folks seem to end up living lives that are pretty small and often circumscribed. The boundaries turn into walls and moats or even cages.
Sometimes they seem pretty fearful of the world and they may not like to do much of anything different than what they already do.
They may be a lot judgmental and not so much fun to be around. They may be prone to misunderstanding other people’s moves and motives and they also tend to be misunderstood, it seems.
And then there are the ones who have YES-books and NO-books that are sort of equally balanced. They seem to be really interesting sorts, I think.
WOO-WOO ALERT: ABOUT THE “AKASHIC RECORDS” THING (AND THE LIBRARY AT ALEXANDRIA TOO)
The way I figure it, the individual YES-books and NO- books are our own contributions to the mystical, magical big ol’ library popular with the woo-woo contingent since the time of the Theosophical Society (which started in 1875 or so).
That library was dubbed the “Akashic Records.”
The Society assured their neighbors that the ideas they espoused were old ones that actually date back to a lot of early Theosophists, especially the Greek and Alexandrian Neo-Platonic philosophers who were around since the 3rd century CE. Whatever.
If you don’t know about the Akashic Records, click on the button below for a very well-done and even-handed treatment of the thing. It’s a 2019 post shared on Medium, and was taken from the blog Holisticism.
As a book freak, I’m picturing a vast library – bigger than the fabled Library of Alexandria on the southern coast of the Mediterranean in Egypt.
I confess that I have a fondness for the historic Library at Alexandria. There’s a video from TED-Ed that tells the story, “What Really Happened To the Library of Alexandria.” The script for it was written by educator Elizabeth Cox and it was animated by Inna Phillimore. You can click on the title of the video to access it.
My own imaginary library goes on forever, backwards and forwards until now (and maybe even into the future). There are books and scrolls and other story-carrying devices and vehicles that just hang out there.
These days there are probably laptops and electronic gadgets in there too.
I imagine that a lot of the writings in the ancient books and things in that old library have faded away or are inaccessible somehow. Maybe there’s been damage by water and fire and worm. Maybe the words are written in old and forgotten languages that we can’t understand.
I can get thoroughly mind-boggled by the whole concept. Hee!
I like the thought that I’m one of the contributing writers to the thing. I don’t even have to apply seat to chair and turn on my brain.
I just have to keep on doing whatever it is I am doing in this old consensus world and my Yes-book and my No-book write their own selves. YIPPEE! (Talk about a writer’s fondest dream!)
AND THEN I GOT TO THINKING….
If the Yes-book and the No-book each of us carries are actually metaphors for the mindsets we hold to, hone, and practice from day to day, then the whole thing makes a kind of sense.
Your Yes-book contains all the foundational stuff for all of those character traits that mamas and daddies, as well as other favorite elders and teachers, BFF’s, motivational speakers, writers, life coaches, and other support people tend to focus on.
Your passions and your loves, your curiosities and your dreams, your obsessions and your attractions tend to take up a lot of space in there.
The rules-of-thumb in your YES-book help you to learn and to grow, to cope with change, to be flexible and resilient, to endure and persevere, and on and on and on.
Your NO-book includes all the shadows — your own as well as other people’s. In there are warnings of life’s dangers, trials and tribulations. All of the hard lessons adversity and not getting what you want have taught you find their way into that book as well.
All of your denials and refusals to see things as they are find their way into your NO-book. So do all of your anger and resentments, the guilty secrets and miserable failures and mistakes…and pain – lots and lots of pain.
The rules-of-thumb in your NO-book are very useful, I say. They can help you avoid making the same old dumb mistakes you always seem to gravitate towards.
In fact, those rules-of-thumb can help you make new, improved mistakes that take you to much more interesting places that can help you scrub off some of the extraneous gunk that keeps your sorry self from shining brighter.
I could go on for days about this. I won’t.
I’ll just ask a couple of questions:
- Which book are you adding to in your life?
- Which are you looking through and learning from?
Here’s a poem:
I WILL NOT DO IT
I told her I do not forgive.
I told her I never forget.
And that confused her
(It was so NOT-P.C.)
So then I told her my own truth,
And I’m not sure she got it,
But, hey, so it goes….
I told her
Forgiving feels like I’m obliged to smile and say,
“Oh, never mind, I don’t care.
Step all over my face; I’ve got a spare.”
Forgetting feels like I’m supposed to shrug and tell the world,
“It doesn’t matter, not at all.
Do what you like; this is Liberty Hall….”
Well, I am not made like that.
I’ve lived too long, gone through too much
To set aside the who-I-am
For the who you think I “should” be.
Your “forgive” feels like a glib and facetious lie,
Like I’m handing out one more
Permission slip in a long line of them
To folks who (let’s face it) are careless.
Your “forget” feels like I’m supposed to
Numb down, closing off my heart,
Squinching down into small
So everybody can go on being comfortable.
Your forgive-and-forget anodyne
Seems to me a happy-pill of great price
And I won’t pay for it.
I’ll choose to stay wide open, thanks,
When every nerve is screaming “stop”
And every neuron wants to make a run for it
And my back is all crawly from anticipating
Yet another stab from a traitorous un-friend.
This is not a simple thing,
To stop the pain of trust-betrayed
From swallowing up your loving heart.
To just let that whimpering thing lie there,
Throbbing, seeping out blood,
Requires a firm willingness to wait
Until the hurting subsides and the healing starts.
It takes a while.
Stopping your raw, torn heart from
Shrinking into a nubbin and
Keeping it from scurrying away to hide
In some dark corner is a practice of a lifetime.
The shadows will not claim me.
I will not back down.
I’ll take my heart and warm it in my hands.
I’ll let it sit there, leave it open to life’s vagaries.
I’ll whisper to it and encourage its defiance,
Urging it to move and dance with the changes as it can.
I’ll stoke its willingness to flow where it must,
And when it is ready, when it grows strong again and firm,
I’ll take that heart of mine and
Launch it one more time into the sky.
I plan to keep on doing that until it flies.
I don’t forgive,
And, no, I won’t forget.
I’m too busy, okay?
by Netta Kanoho
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