The Year of Yes – Story of a Transformation

Approaching the beginning of a new year, it seems a very suitable reading from the title. The good intentions, the desire to change, to open new doors, to leave behind the old … seem to have already seen photos, words already heard, and maybe immediately think of one of those books that claim to teach to live in another way, more creative and more consonant to themselves, giving all the answers, which overturn all the already ultra-felt motivations like “if you want, you can”, “from what you can do”.

Yes and no.

Clear and linear, is not it?

I’m leaving like this because there is not even a trace of linearity here. He is a person who talks about himself and how he actually managed to say and do very difficult things, despite the training of a whole working life at the highest levels, collecting nothing short of planetary successes. Does this seem like a contradiction? Yes it is. If we think logically, it is extremely contradictory. Here we are talking about how a life really works, and not how it should work, according to dictates and logical parameters that do not really have to do with this. We strive, as inhabitants of this land and dimension, to follow them, to box ourselves in and feel frustrated and wrong when we fail, but in life, these have nothing to do with it.

Let’s start in an almost ordered way. The author of this book is Shonda Rhimes, a name well known to those who follow the world of TV series. In America she is considered one of the most powerful and talented women of all time, since the series of her creation, Gray’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and The Rules of the Perfect Crime, have obtained and are obtaining a worldwide success. Difficult to meet someone who did not support Meredith Gray, did not feel sorry for Dr. Shepherd, or jumped on the chair because of the innumerable treacheries and plot twists and as a master of lawyer Keating’s team.

It’s not all here, though. Shonda collects mentions, awards, is invited to parties, exclusive conferences, is involved in extremely important projects and valuable from high-ranking people and big shots in the field of entertainment and communications, is beloved by the public, has three beautiful daughters.

I can see yawning with boredom, eyes to the sky and capturing sharp comments: “Ah, good-looking. All very interesting. But just so much. I’ll go, I’ll have pasta. ”

If all these spangles were the stuff of this book, I would authorize you to forget even that it was ever written. On the contrary, I will tell you why it would be nice, marvelous, enriching, of value if you could read it and if you would return to it sometimes, just for a greeting and a reminder.

Shonda, from her description, is a writer who only loves to write. All he asks from life is to continue telling stories, as he did when he was a child in the kitchen closet of his home, where he traded with cans, preserves, various bottles and invented whole worlds. The attention, the affection, the invasion of other people’s field costs them a lot, from the emotional point of view. He refuses worldly occasions, and when he can not escape himself, he participates with the spirit of the prisoner subjected to unspeakable torture. It makes clumsy gaffes, bursts with jokes and bad words out of place, and some scenes. It is not a difficult character, it is not an irritating and hateful primadonna, it is not an impossible to manage boss.

She is a wary and unwilling creature to have external contacts, which is buried in her world of characters and stories, in her comfort zone, and she does not want anything else. Beware, it’s not a shy mammy, nor an asocial one. Do not challenge it for anything. Not at a card game, not at Scarabeo, or at work. He aspires without thinking about it, because in his blood, next to white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and various substances, there is an enormous quantity of competitive bacteria, those of an impossible strain to eradicate. Do not think that he does not know anyone. The world of entertainment has no secrets or names unknown to her, comes from a large family (all composed of stars and creatures as competitive as she), has three daughters from different fathers, does not disdain appointments with interesting men (imagine the stress of the candidates ), has very solid friendships very deep.

I told you it was contradictory. This is its charm. Shonda lives on top of Olympus, but she would like to not live there for so long. He would like not to be forced to participate in the outside world for so long. For this, he begins to close some doors. Then others. And then others. Until you get to a fatal point, where one of the older sisters, the most authoritarian of all, shoots a quiet “You never say yes to anything” during the preparations for Thanksgiving in the family, which will start the bloody self-revolution of Shonda.

For a year, from that moment on, he will say yes to everything. Above all to that which terrifies her to the highest degree, and which she has always avoided with a thousand ingenious stratagems, a thousand cures. And here the book expands its charm and its true message. Shonda tells us a thousand episodes of her “yes” in a lively style, as a fast serial writer, but supported by a culture so closely assimilated as to be her fiber. And all the background, of course, which is the most tasty and nutritious part.

I have said yes to the rectors of prestigious American universities that ask her to give talks to graduates, and that cost them hysterical and depressive scenes (with consequent dip in ice cream tubs, cups full of chocolate biscuits, whole plates of potato chips), as well want to turn around and escape until the second before appearing on the scene. I said yes to the interviews live for the impressive ABC network, which transmits in one evening only three of its successful series, the only case in the industry. I yes to herself, to what she really wants in her life, next to her and her daughters. I no to say yes. The result is a transformation lived and enjoyed step by step, together with the terrors that are born for the unknown dimension in which Shonda comes to be, of his own will. It also takes a lot of will and a lot of inspiration to keep that decision … so many times it would give up. It can count on the help of an extraordinary family and friends, and … on itself. Precisely the person who least considered, but that helps in an essential way, even if indirect. What do I mean? Pay attention to the steps in which Shonda talks about some characters she created, especially Christina Yang. You will discover a key that in the series does not immediately appear so clear, but here it is essential.

In conclusion? Read this book, and enjoy every word. Take inspiration to bring all your yeses into reality, starting with those you have hidden so well that you have lost sight of them. And if you sometimes repent, remember to Shonda and his caustic spirit, whenever he is facing a thorny situation where his tongue or his “orsaggine” force it, while he is trying to say yes to something that shakes her with terror. And then continue. You will discover that a year is not … enough.