Monday, August 15, 2011


“I thought you were the glass half full kind of guy…?”
“There’s a glass?”

I woke up at some uninhabited hour. I know this because it was deep dark and the world was quiet. I was parched. Evidently I’m a mouth-breather by night. I shambled into the bathroom and turned on the tap. As Murphy would have it, I’d forgotten to bring the cup back upstairs after washing it. So I did what mankind has done instinctively since the necessity for water was discovered. I cupped my hands under the flow, captured a good half cup full, and drank.

I stumbled back to bed thinking, “Screw the glass, who needs it anyway?” Of course, it was enough to get my brain gears tacking along. I wondered when it was we began to measure life (and all its little details) in a half full or half empty increment. Optimists will proclaim, “The glass is half full! And there‘s room for more!” Pessimists will dourly complain, “It’s half empty! We‘re running out!”

By now, fully awake, I thought about the movie Steve and I had watched the other night -a beautifully made film called, The Way Back. The movie is about a group of escapees who, after running from a Siberian prison camp in WWII, trek on foot into Tibet and then India. In one scene they barely made it across the Gobi desert when they stumbled upon the remnants of a puddle. Without second thought, they fell to their knees and began slurping up the muddy water.

They didn’t give a second thought to how much was there or where they’d find more. They only knew that for the moment, their needs were met. It was enough. Alive was enough.

Does it really matter who’s right? Does the whole half-full vs. half-empty argument hold any weight when we have what we need; when either way the equation ends up equaling life; when in truth, we really don’t even need the glass? The glass is simply a tool, invented somewhere along the way, no doubt, because some caveguy got tired of his cavewife bitching at him for slopping on his loin cloth. So, if we get rid of the glass altogether we lose the necessity to justify it as either half full or half empty. Because what we’re left with is water. What we’re left with is that regardless, we’re alive. What we’re left with is life.

Of course, I’m aware that the whole argument is a metaphor for attitude. And of course I’m aware of how important an optimistic attitude is. What I’m getting at is that there’s no need to push either attitude into or out of existence if we realize that what we have in front of us is enough. What we have will get us to the next step.

Would a dying man in the desert look at a half glass of water and say, “Is that all?” or perhaps, “Surely there’s more!” No. The man drinks it. The man walks on. The man is grateful for alive and the glass itself is an afterthought.

1 comment:

  1. Barb,

    First, it's fun to read the grist from your early-morning gear turning. Ha! I do the same thing and I've learned to keep my mouth shut about it (most of the time) with my "I'm-not-a-morning-person" friends/family. They can't be bothered with these deep thoughts before about...oh, say... never.

    Thanks for sharing more notes from the road.

    Also, it's great to see you writing about "The Way Back". I found it to be deeply human and inspiring.



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