Remember when you were a child and your parents told you to eat your spinach, pick up your clothes, clean your room and brush your teeth? We did these things without question because our parents told us to do it. Oh sure, we griped about it, but still we did it.
But as we grow older and discover what we truly do like and dislike, things change. Gone are the days when someone suggested that I combat my fear of roller coasters so that I could “just get over it.” I rode on exactly three roller coasters in my life and hated it each time. I’m not doing it again—ever.
Then there were the people in our lives who insist that we face our fears to make us stronger. If speaking in front of people scares you, there are courses you can take to overcome your trepidation. And so it goes. You can choose to face your fears and succeed, or, you can get to my age and say these magic words: “No. I’m not doing that.”
No need for excuses or explanations. Just flat-out NO. For instance, I have hated spiders all my life. They give me the willies, and just thinking about them make my skin crawl. Yet I have lived happily all these years avoiding them, and see no need whatsoever to take a course to get to like them.
Then there is the food thing. So many of us won’t try a new food because we might hate it, or it might make us sick, or we will come down with some sort of rash, and the list goes on. When I was growing up, we had very varied meals. The rule of the house was this: “Just try it. If you try it and don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it. But don’t just look at it and say no.”
If I wasn’t pushed to try artichokes, oysters on the half shell, turnips, fried clams, parsnips, knishes, peas and so on, I would have missed out on so much. The other house rule when I was a kid was if I didn’t like what was for supper, I was welcome to make myself a peanut butter sandwich. As Mom said back then, “this ain’t no bar and grill.”
I used to love to fly. When I moved to Texas, I loved flying back home to New Hampshire to visit my parents. I would fly anywhere and be perfectly happy doing it. Each time I got on a plane, I would say my usual “flying prayer” which asked God to watch over us all and the plane and get to our destinations safe and sound. Nothing bad ever happened.
And then there was 9/11. I watched in horror with the rest of the world as over three thousand innocent people in planes or in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon senselessly lost their lives. I am sure that none of them ever thought that morning that it would be the last day of their lives. All I could think of to do was to stand in line with hundreds of other shocked people to give blood.
Ever since then I haven’t been able to fly anywhere. I have read the statistics, talked with frequent flyers and pilots who all tell me that flying is still the safest method of traveling. But I fear I am done with flying for the rest of my life. And you know what? I don’t care. It’s one more thing I am saying ‘no’ to; it’s at the top of my “No, I’m not doing that” list.
Words are power, folks. When we put words out, especially powerful ones, it makes an impact. We might not see it, but it is there just the same. It is sort of like the saying that, when a butterfly on the East Coast flutters its wings, a tsunami happens on the other side of the world. True? I’m not sure.
But I am quite sure that these words resonate with many of us: “I’m not doing that.”