So, recently there's this particular someone I've found myself saying no to a lot.
"No, you can't borrow my shark shaped hyper spanner."
"No, we're not cleaning the EPS conduits."
"No, you cannot take an away team down to the planet's surface."
(I've also, consequently, been watching a lot of Star Trek: Enterprise, which I really enjoy, but that's a whole separate topic.)
Often when this particular ensign (go with me here, Star Trek metaphor) kept coming to me, I got the distinct impression that they saw me as the Captain of the ship, or maybe ship's counselor. Some sort of senior officer, anyhow.
But I'm just a crewman, like anyone else. Sure, I put together the shark dive on the holodeck, sure I'm willing to take a few minutes out of my duty shift to tell people an awesome zen story in between servicing warp coils, sure I led that infamous game of fizbin in the mess hall that went on for 72 hours straight. Yes, yes, yes.
(Are you getting that I really like Star Trek here? Because I really do.)
But I'm still just one guy on the ship. Not THE guy. And sometimes I need my sleep. Or to catchup on my personal log. (How the heck do star dates even work?) I'm just a person.
Still, saying no to Ensign Needhelp over and over was starting to feel really bad to me.
Here's an infamous 15 minute long compilation of Security Chief Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation getting told no, getting shut down, over and over in various ways.
When I first saw this thing, years ago, it made me howl with laughter. Lately I find I can watch about 5 minutes of it before I have to tap out. Go on, give it a try. Or feel free to tell me no.
I've been realizing something important, working on it for a bit, about that No I keep giving the ensign.
The no for them isn't about them. It's the complement to a yes for me.
A who-what now?
A complement. A thing which of necessity is required for balance and wholeness. Like the way a coin has a heads side and a tails side. You can't have one without the other. "Oh but head and tails are opposites, mako?", you might say.
Sort of. But also complements. When I say no to something, I'm saying yes to something else.
So, everybody knows the yin-yang symbol, the taijitu, or "supreme ultimate." Big swirly circle, two sides, two dots, Yin and Yang. The reason the dots are there, the reason the sides are swirls is that they contain one another, extend one another, and define one another.
Kinda like this:
This is much more what I'm going for. During the whole year there's not one instant where you're not heading toward midsummer and away from midwinter, or just the opposite. Every minute, of every day, you come closer and closer to that pivot point.
Just in the same way, when you say no to things you don't have the energy, time, interest, or whatever-is-required-to-do-it for, you're also saying yes to other things. Everyone is. All the time.
Today I explained some part of this to that particular ensign, and made sure I was clear because I wanted to be understood.
It felt good.