Saying No to the Good, for Yes to Best

It was late Saturday, and I got an invitation I couldn’t refuse. A mom in my youngest son’s class invited us with a tentative voice to come over for a “un poco de algo” to eat to celebrate her son’s birthday the next day.  At our public school, despite good-hearted attempts by both sides, the English-dominant and Spanish-dominant families don’t mix much.

“Si!” I said. Of course we’ll come.

Actually, I just didn’t want to say no. Our second invitation to a classmate’s home, during the critical kindergarten year.

The only problem was, the day was already packed. I couldn’t bear to tell my son about the invite until after our other friends had left for the morning. He was *super* excited to see his soccer buddy from class, for about five minutes. Then he announced he wasn’t going. I made a half-hearted attempt to ask him if he wanted to wait ten minutes, and then decide? before I realized, that the truth of the matter was that I was feeling too tired to go too.

I was grateful for the sensibility of a five-year-old to reign me in from my precious plans (made in the spirit of helping him no less).

There’s a saying these days – The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) – that is apparently a real defined thing on Wikipedia. I’ve heard it sometimes in the context of not wanting to commit to any plans – but for me, it’s definitely about not wanting to say no. No to really good things. No to things I want to do.

Instead, we stayed home, texted a “lo siento mucho” and I finally published this blog that’s been percolating since the fall. The boys played and watched videos. Yes to the Best.

I’ve been reading a bit of an ancient sacred text called Tao Te Ching. I want to dive into this text more in the coming weeks, but tonight this piece of poetry spoke to me:

Close the openings,
shut the doors,
and to the end of life
nothing will trouble you.
Open the openings,
be busy with the business,
and to the end of life
nothing can help you.
(Tao Te Ching, excerpt #52, translation by Ursula Le Guin)

Is there something good you need to decline this week in your life so you can say yes to the best? How do you discern what the “best” is for you, this week or this moment?

3 thoughts on “Saying No to the Good, for Yes to Best

  1. Funny, sometimes we need to be compelled to stop and hit pause. Today I decided to finally listen to my body that has had an achy, icky virus for several days – cancelled appointments and asked friends for help so that I can sleep, sip water and heal. Was hard to do but liberating in so many ways. What I sometimes remember notice when I ask for help is that it is so nice for others to be able to give help – we sometimes forget the satisfaction that others get in being able to help us – it is truly a gift when we are able to give in response to a request.

    • I love this. I got sick last week too, and finally just gave up and watched videos for a day. And it’s true – being asked for help, in a tangible way from a friend – feels really good. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. thank you, thank you! i constantly need to remember that it is sometimes imperative for me to say no to a few good things so i can say yes to the best. i am so accustomed to thinking in terms of squeezing so much into each day that it’s going to take some thoughtful discernment and re-training of my neural pathways to be very clear about separating the best from the good in order to make sure the best does not get trampled by the good…

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