the short story of yes

August 26th, 2012

At about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Facebook newsfeeds were updated with the posting, “Karen Maezen Miller and Georgia Miller are now friends.”

There is a story behind this friendship, as there is a story behind all friendships, and a story behind the end of friendships.

The long version is that preteens around the world know that 13 is the magical year in Facebookland, the year when you can sign up without lying about your age. So that on the morning of a 13th birthday, when a child wakes at dawn to make a bleary-eyed inspection of her overnight transfiguration, she takes up a bleat incessantly alarming and annoying to the parental cochlea. “Can I have a Facebook? Can I have a Facebook? Can I have a Facebook?” (An expression that is peculiar to the young. People of my age might admit to being possessed by Facebook, but our children see it the other way around.) So that after two weeks of hedging and hawing, the answer is given:


Behind every friendship is a story. And the short version is yes.

It’s not all that easy to be friends, because it’s not that easy to say yes. It’s not even appropriate to say yes, particularly not to your children. During most of our great and tremulous time together, we are not our children’s friends.

But should you care to make and maintain friendship with, say, your sister or brother, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, partners and spouses, strangers and enemies; should you care to live out your frail and frightened years with a companionship other than bitter loneliness, anger, judgment and blame; should you wail or wonder why you are forgotten, avoided or overlooked, the world shrunken and mean; should you ever attempt to make easy space and grace for the ten thousand million billions who share your blessed blink of time, you are going to have to shorten every one of your stories to one word that includes everything and leaves out nothing that really needs to be said:


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  1. Oh Karen, I love this on so many levels. Oui! Oui!

    Georgia, bonne chance avec le Facebook!

    Comment by Bobbi — August 26, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  2. This made me smile. And made me remember my college French professor who spoke the language with a thick southern accent (we were at UNC Chapel Hill). If we answered a question correctly or interpreted some arcane piece of medieval poetry well, he’d bang his hand on the desk and say, “Oui, Oui, HELL OUI!”

    Comment by Elizabeth Aquino — August 26, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  3. What do you mean by, “frail and frightened years?” Do we all have that to look forward to?? Yikes!

    Comment by Erin Wheatley — August 27, 2012 @ 4:25 am

  4. I personally feel that relatives shouldn’t be friends on Facebook but I’m all for the Yes here. What a modern coming of age you’ve documented here. I wonder what will be the case for us in 6.5 years.

    Comment by Shawn — August 27, 2012 @ 6:02 am

  5. Extraordinary.

    Comment by Mary H. Ruth — August 27, 2012 @ 7:04 am

  6. Erin,
    Frail? Yes. Frightened? Only if you say no.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — August 27, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  7. According to Neale Donald Walsch, God knows only one word: “Yes”
    I don’t know if there is a God in Zen, but imagining that idea is really a definite “WOW” for me. Every time I answer my childeren with a wholehearted “Yes” I think about that. Have a wonderful day.
    (Have you considered how great it is that your daughter actually took the time to wait for your “yes”?)

    Comment by Simone — August 28, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

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