I read while I walk. This may seem a strange way to begin a letter of appreciation, but since you started your book with a confession, I thought I'd start with one of mine. I read while I walk. I've done it ever since I was young...and it upsets people. They can't understand how I can keep moving forward while taking in the information on the pages in front of me. I tell them that it's no different from texting and walking, but that's actually a lie. The truth is, it's an addiction. I just can't help myself. How can I leave the world I've been immersed in just to transport my body from one place to another? There are two reasons that I bring this up: 1, I have a forty minute walk to and from work every day; 2, partly in the course of that commute, I just finished reading The Year Of Yes. I will admit that this book was not on my list and I don't tend to read non-fiction very often, but my book club selected your book for our next pick and my reluctance melted away when I saw your name on the cover. I have been an avid Grey's Anatomy fan since the first episode. Cristina Yang is still one of my favorite characters ever created, but I'm not writing you to talk about your television shows, wonderful as they are. I'm writing because your book inspired me to. I was hooked from the very first page. It is bold and entertaining, but most of all… honest. It would be brazen and presumptuous to say I know you now, but in reading your words, I actually learned more about me. On paper, I'm hardly anything like you. I'm a 34-year-old, white, gay man raised with Jewish traditions, living in New York City with no children. One would be hard-pressed to call me introverted. And yet, despite these glaring, superficial differences, I was also a child who created worlds out of the mundane objects lying around me. I, too, am the adult who is in love with his work. I majored in English and Theatre in undergrad, so lying is hardly foreign to me. And I'm now a writer and a teacher so I recognize the impact one person has on those around them. Your story helps me recognize similar feelings and experiences in myself and those around me and I'm learning to react more positively in those moments of doubt or frustration or fear. The most wonderful thing about The Year Of Yes is that it isn't marketed as a self-help book or a guidebook for changing your life. Instead, what I found inside was a conversation. I never felt preached to, or instructed. I felt as though I were sitting down with another human being for a chat. I found myself actually laughing aloud in places and reading parts to my boyfriend, knowing he'd appreciate them. Your breaking of the fourth wall drew me into the story even further. You kept me company on my daily commute and your speech to the Human Rights Campaign brought tears to my eyes. I found myself yearning to know your Ride or Die crew better and got me thinking about who was in my own Ride or Die crew. As a former actor and the current theatre director for my school, I loved the way you described Cristina Yang as half yours and half Sandra Oh’s. Most of all, though, was the inspiration inherent in your story. Page after page, through laughter and sentimentality, I felt emboldened. I wanted my own Year Of Yes. So I'm starting it the best way I know how: unapologetically writing a letter to the woman who inspired me to try it. It's a scary endeavor, but I believe a worthy one. I want you to know that your book has had an impact on me. I've recommended it to many people and I'm very much looking forward to discussing it at my book club meeting later tonight. Thank you for your bravery in writing of your own experiences.
Jared R. Lopatin