Image courtesy of ancient history
via Creative Commons.

Sometimes I regret the things I do. Far more often I regret the things I don’t do. And so I’ve encouraged myself to say yes to things, even when I think my proverbial plate is full.

I used to have a rule about traveling for work: no more than one week per month; more than that and I would start to feel overwhelmed. But since my first TEDx talk came out two years ago, I’ve been invited to speak in various and far flung places far more frequently than once a month. I do still have my limits, but I’ve stretched them and have found that as long as I stay in the present moment and don’t think ahead (or go over in my mind how many different cities I’ll be in each month), I do fine.

And I try to do the same at home, too, by saying yes to opportunities to adventure more, connect more, and experience more. But when evening rolls around and I’m warm and cozy next to my husband on the couch, it takes a lot to rouse me to adventure. And so in a subtle way I say no quite often. I live at the Institute for Humane Education, which is situated on 28 acres on Patten Bay in coastal Maine. It takes only 10 minutes to walk to the ocean, but I seldom venture out at night, except in summer, even though that’s when I’m most likely to see wildlife, hear owls, and have the chance to marvel at the stars and glimpse a meteor.

Tonight, after dinner, my husband noticed just how bright it was outside. Yesterday was our first snowfall of the season. The full moon was rising and the house cast a shadow on the white snow. I knew this was a night I had to say yes to.

So picture this: every fairy tale, every children’s picture book of woods and meadows under a moonlit night; a world that looks as if diamond dust were strewn upon every inch so that each step becomes a kaleidoscope of sparkles; shadows so distinct that you could cut them out like paper dolls; deep snow, tiring to traverse, the effort keeping you warm on the cold night; the path in the woods, normally wide, now a maze from laden branches bowed down; ducking under spruce boughs so heavy with snow they form caves and igloos; coming back upon the meadow on the return and having it feel like a sports arena at night, blazed with light.

Now imagine how you would feel on such a walk on a moonlit night in winter.

Saying yes to opportunities and adventures, as well as to the discomfort and effort such yeses often bring, is my way of saying yes to awe, love, joy, purpose, and ultimately life. It’s my way of ensuring I live with few regrets.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: “Solutionaries”
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach
My TEDxYouth@BFS “Educating for Freedom”

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