The YES/NO binary fascinates me. When I went to university computers were a becoming thing. Beginning science students at my college had to take a basic programming course. We used punch cards, stacks of them. We talked Fortran to a whirligig machine the size of a classroom. The best thing I got out of the course was learning Flow Chart methodology. I still use this principle to make personal decisions.
Life is not always a matter of a yes or no decision. A yes answer to a question can mean you agree, and when it comes to a contractual understanding I believe it shows strong character to commit to the outcome. On the other hand, saying yes can also be a process to finding out. I always told my young sons when they were out with others that if things went south and they started to feel uncomfortable, they could always call me for a pick up. Deciding yes doesn’t mean there is no turning back, yes doesn’t mean you are stuck. There is always something else you can do; it’s quite fine to change your mind.
When we are in autopilot we probably don’t think too much about our Yes/No response rate. Most of our lives we just flow along. I’ve said a resounding Yes to marriage twice in my life. Choosing teaching as a career was a fateful Yes. I’ve chosen affirmative responses to life changing questions when folks have shown confidence in me even when I have doubted my own ability. I once chose to question the YES of life in the midst of some dark days.
Back when I was coding those punch cards, the computer could only determine between one and zero. Like an On/Off switch the pathway to an answer flowed like an electrical current until a solution was found. As we move closer to AI robotics I wonder if we’ll be able to program something like a shrug into a SimBot. A simple yes or no is restrictive to creativity. A Maybe thrown in, once in a while, can stimulate imagination.
I love saying Yes. But it’s not always a practical answer. My wife says I’m a very emphatic person. I joke with her sometimes that life would be more fun if there was a limit to the negatives; Don’t, Not now, Not really, Never! M’Eh is the worst: That response combines a dismissive attitude with an apathetic outlook. Nothing is ever accomplished with a M’Eh. Unfortunately my reflex response, whenever we are out shopping, is No! I hate being a spoilsport. I can make firm and relatively quick decisions because I know myself well but my mind is not suited for a black or white rigid existence either.
My mother-in-law showed me her wedding pictures yesterday. She’s been saying her final goodbyes to her husband of 68 years. It took him nine years before he agreed to the union. I watched her smile like Mona Lisa as these memories played about in her head. Her lifetime started with a Yes.