Just Say… YES!
If there is any message I would like readers of my memoirs, A Longing for Africa – Ethiopia and A Longing for Africa – Kenya to take away with them, is to just say yes to your dreams and to the life experiences that present themselves.
YES! It is completely up to us and it may be all we ever have to know…just say YES!
I didn’t really consciously know it, but even as a child, I somehow knew that the way to a brave life was to keep saying yes to my dreams. I kept an African scrap book when I was a little girl. In it I taped photos and articles from old National Geographic, Life and Look magazines and what I thought were interesting facts from the encyclopedia…really, anything I could find about Africa ended up in my scrapbook. Other girls my age kept diaries, but I kept up my scrapbook. I’d flip through it again and again, sitting cross-legged on my bed, my most treasured possession.
I was the product of suburban 1950’s, which was as far from an African explorer as one could get – Cinderella, Barbie dolls, backyard barbeques and swing sets – but I was lucky enough to have a father who supported my brother and I, who told us we could have what we dreamed of. “If you can dream it, you’re capable of having it. You wouldn’t be capable of the dream if you didn’t have it in you to make it happen.”
I understood that I COULD have the experience of Africa…by imagining it, by dreaming about it, by imagining the smells, the sounds, the feel, the taste of Africa. I didn’t know how I’d get there, but I always knew I would.
While my friends all seemed to like the teen heart throbs of the day – Frankie Valle, Elvis, then the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, I loved cheetahs and giraffes and chimpanzees. And most of all, I loved Jane Goodall.
When Dr. Jane Goodall came to the world’s attention (and mine) she was in her early twenties – blonde, and graceful and incredibly brave. She was living by herself in the rain forests of Tanzania and studying the wild chimpanzees that had accepted her presence and befriended her. Her startling observations during those early years have taught us all just how much chimpanzees and humans share in common.
A secretary from London by training, she had longed for Africa, as I did, from the time she was a small girl. She still travels everywhere with a small stuffed chimp she still has from her childhood – a very prophetic chimp.
A young Jane said yes to an offer of a vacation to a London friend’s Kenyan family farm, yes to a desire to stay in Nairobi, yes to anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey’s job offer to her to be his secretary at the Nairobi Museum, yes to his suggestion that she make a camp in a Tanzanian rain forest home to many troops of chimpanzees to study them alone, yes to the observations she discovered and believed that no other trained biologist before her had made.
She was my absolute inspiration. She said yes to her research, to a life in Africa, then yes again to a commitment to save the chimpanzees from extinction, and yes once more, to saving the planet from extinction. She’s eighty years old this year and she’s still saying yes.
And you can, too.
What do YOU want? A career you fantasize about? An education that will allow you to reach great goals and help mankind? A great love you already can feel in your heart? Friends you can count on whom you don’t even know yet and somehow already know you can trust? Money? Travel? To do good in the world?
Take that first baby step and say yes and allow yourself have the dream, then take another step, and then another.
Start by saying YES! It may be all any of us ever need to know.
Look! Other famous people have said the same thing in different ways. Here are two quotes I found:
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” ~ Richard Branson
“Say yes. And your figure it out afterwards.” ~ Tina Fey
My memoirs will be available in early 2017 at Amazon.com
A Longing for Africa – Part One, Ethiopia
A Longing for Africa – Part Two, Kenya
I sincerely hope they inspire you to say yes to your dreams. Please share them with me!