Just now I was thinking about the proverbial glass half-full vs. glass half-empty. As I prepared dinner and put the kettle on the stove, I had a thought I’d never thunk before, one which, now thunked, amazes me with its obviousness. Either way, the glass is the same.
As my stomach growled and the water simmered I marveled at the judgement hidden in that question, do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? The implication is that if you see the glass half-full you’re a positive person who will attract friends and good fortune, and if you see the glass half-empty you’re a miserable person no one wants to be around. Early in life I reasoned, I never want to be one of those negative people! (lol, see albums 1-13).
However is this true? Is there value in emptiness? Does there need to be value? Does value make a thing? Is there another way of seeing? Must we be so reliant on sight?
I had a friend who saw the glass emptier than half-empty. He believed that everything eventually goes wrong, which meant I had to work extra hard to believe that everything eventually goes right. When things went wrong, he was right. When things went wrong, I was devastated. It was exhausting. Both of us attempted to control the flow of the glass because neither could bear the unknown.
I don’t automatically see the glass half-full. I don’t see the glass half-empty, either — mostly I take the glass for granted, seldom noticing unless it’s empty or overflowed. There are many senses to indulge in. Most likely I’m thinking about thirst or a song or sex (again, different words for the same thing).
As the water boiled and I filled the mug I marveled at how complicated we can make something so simple. Life is fluid. So are we.
Some see half-empty, some see half-full, some see something else. Despite what the news or angry bumperstickers tell us, we have a heck of a lot in common with people who see the world differently. We occupy the same space. When we fixate on how we see the glass (or the world) we’re no longer seeing the glass (or the world). We’re seeing our own mind, reflected back to us as we guzzle what is or isn’t there. We're drunk on being right, rather than on learning what is here. Glass is fragile. We must handle it with care.
I wonder... what’s in this glass, anyway? Is it wanted? How much is enough? Is there someone other than us who might benefit from its contents? Can we acknowledge the privilege of having a glass, holding a glass, seeing a glass, empty or full or in any state of emptiness or fullness? And what of the whole universe surrounding this glass...
Right now the windows are open and the room is filled with the music of leaves rustling and birds settling in for the night. My belly is more than half-full with the satisfaction that comes only after one has known the feeling of being more than half-empty. Despite everything, I'm optimistic.
Just some thoughts. Thank you for taking a sip.
I'm attaching an old half-full song from a young wholehearted swan, circa 2006.