Note: The Rules & Guidelines for the Yes Test can be found here.
A few days ago, my new friend asked me if I wanted to do a Spartan Race. The new friend is an Irishman, and when I listen to him speak in his Dublin accent I tend to zone out because it sounds like he's singing me a lullaby, so if he asks me a yes or no question, I'm likely to say yes simply so he keeps talking. So, I said yes to the Spartan race and was immediately overcome by regret. The whole thing seemed like such a pain in the ass. I would have to drive to Mount Seymour, then park a long ass way away, take a shuttle up the mountain, wait around for two hours, and spend $100 to run up a mountain and ruin 1/3 of my current wardrobe. After all of that, a stranger would have to hose me off so I could get back in the car and drive home alone.
The Sprint race is 5-8km and held on Saturday, while the Super is more than double the length and held on Sunday. Irishman and his band of Irish brothers are all racing on Sunday, and as much as I'd like them to lullaby talk me through the 10 mile footrace, I run like a wounded gazelle and consider the 2 mile run I did last week to be a massive accomplishment. They would probably have finished the race and gotten thoroughly post-race Irish drunk by the time I actually finished, so it's not like I'd have their sing song voices to entertain me along the way.
But, I've always sort of wanted to do a Spartan Race or a Tough Mudder just to say I did it. I can't run for shit, but after 4 years of CrossFit I'm in fantastic bodyweight shape, so the obstacles shouldn't be a problem. Far less fit people than me have successfully finished this race. Why was I resisting so much? Why did I wait so long to register that the price went up not once, but twice? All of my friends will be out of town that day, so it's not like I have anything else to do, other than sit around in the apartment I'm renting and look out the windows into a world where people actually leave their house and do things.
This isn't a new issue. Even though I've been traveling around the world, I constantly talk myself out of experiences, leave the party early, and get stuck in a decisions that ultimately don't matter. I try to preserve my energy and my time, even though I'm in a beautiful position that doesn't require me to preserve my energy and time. I don't have to start work precisely at 9 am every morning. I'm not bound to any one place. I don't have anyone depending on me. I am free to basically do whatever I want. I stumbled upon that lifestyle that everyone dreams of, and yet, this freedom creates a sense of paralysis that I can't think my way out of.
So, I decided to stop thinking about it and just say "yes" instead. As of June 3, 2017, I am committing to say yes and follow through with every scenario presented to me in the form of a yes or no question, no matter how weird or ridiculous, for one year. I've created a preliminary list of guidelines, because I know that someone out there is going to try to take advantage of this scenario and ask me if I want to donate all of my savings into their new crypto currency, or fund their latest round of plastic surgery.
I plan on chronicling this experiment on a day by day basis, even though the whole experiment is not off to a great start. I already screwed up and said "no" to the first person I talked to on the first day of the Yes Test. The barista at JJ Bean asked me if I wanted anything else with my coffee, and I instinctively said no. I could have said, "Yes, I'd love a muffin!" Or, "Just room for cream," or even, "yes, for you to have a great day." Whatever, I just needed to say something other than "no." Not because it was a decision that could have a large impact on my life, but because I need to start paying attention to when these questions are asked.
I caught myself a few hours later, when Irishman asked if I wanted to get a drink before dinner, which was definitely not the plan. I realized halfway through my text that I could not, in fact, say no. This request for a drink didn't break any of the rules, so I went to a bar and had a god damned delicious glass of Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc. But, when the waitress asked if we wanted another one, Irishman chimed in, said no, and asked for the bill, which inspired another rule: If the yes or no question is asked in a group setting, I can default to decision of the group. Otherwise, I'm never getting out of a restaurant.
I'm relying on you guys to keep me accountable, which is why I'm making this a public blog. In the meantime, I registered for that Spartan Race.