An age old question, is the glass half empty, or half full? I find myself highly intrigued by this philosophical metaphor, intended to represent the progression of life. I find myself even more intrigued by how wide spread knowledge of it’s existence is. I would think you could ask just about any human being on the planet, what exactly this question is referring to, and we would all respond rather similarly.
“ Does life just slowly dwindle away into inevitable nothingness, or does it perhaps slowly fill up, growing with each moment that passes…?”
No doubt some varying array of answers to this question exist. However, based on the nature of its structure, I think it fair to assume that they all inevitably dial back into two distinct categories. That of the pessimist, and that of the optimist. Now, I generally see a problem with any, A or B, this or that, style of question. But I feel this problem especially magnified when the question is in reference to life itself. I have heard a wide assortment of defensive reasoning for both sides of this coin, and I constantly find myself fascinated by the justifications provided.
The pessimist might tell you something like, “No matter what we are all going to die, you can not avoid this truth.” Continuing on with some attempt at adding positivity, “You know, do what you can to be happy and all, but you are no doubt one step closer to your death with each day that passes.” I’ve had people go on to explain to me that because of this inevitability there really isn’t much reason in trying to care about too much, that it would all be for nothing anyways as in the end all of our cups will undoubtedly be empty. There is a general stigma that such a person must be depressed, but I don’t necessarily always find this to be true, and think to assume such a thing would be rather foolish. The pessimist often feels like they are being a realist, and in some regards, they are.
An optimist on the other hand is going to answer this question with a ton of energy and devoutly state that it is obviously half full. “Look at everything you’ve done in life thus far, and look at how much of life lies ahead of you, just waiting to be conquered!” Often, such an individual will go on to dissect my personal accomplishments and attempt to show me how much better things have gotten through the years, and how I’m no doubt becoming a “more full” version of myself.
Both valid perspectives in their own right, and I find it hard to seriously argue against either stance. This aside, you want to know what I find truly mind-boggling? I have never met anyone, or heard of a response from someone, that has in any way, even remotely, challenged the very basic integrity of the question itself. Like we all just choose option A or option B, as if there is nothing else. There is a problem here in that this question inherently sets a standard, or parameter by which life must be lived. Furthermore, it forces us to confine our lives to a vessel, an entity that we must live within (the glass), leaving only two possible directions for movement. And although, again, either answer is valid in its own regard, by choosing one of the two options you have also chosen to allow your life to unfold via this set parameter. You’ve subconsciously allowed yourself to exist within a cage. You’re either happy or you’re sad, positive or negative, exciting or boring. An optimist or a pessimist. As if when you aren’t something specifically definable, you therefore must be its antonym.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it comfortable? Is it simple? Maybe we don’t want to over complicate things, let’s just pick an answer and move on. Or perhaps, we’ve just never truly realized that to defy the question itself, is a possibility.
Well today, my friends, I am here to tell you that this is most certainly a possibility, and further that it is one I personally feel we should all pursue.
Because the honest truth of it is, there is no glass.
We are not meant to be defined, let alone to allow ourselves being defined in a fashion that demands we either are or we are not. It is most certainly possible to exist in between A and B, or outside of them. Just as much as it is possible to be both A and B simultaneously. Life is both filling up, and emptying, in every fraction of every moment. People, places and things, constantly moving in and out of our lives. “Emptying” yourself of one set of friends, or of a place once lived, and finding the room and time to explore new worlds and to meet a whole new series of people. Filling your closet with clothes, until you have too many and now must empty them out. Letting go of unhealthy thoughts and watching new, more positive ones, blossom in their place. We are always filling up, as we are likewise always emptying.
A great freedom is obtained through this realization, one magnificently intensified upon further realizing that this concept of a glass serves only to narrow ones perspective. Because without something to define our limits, not only do we become capable of movement in any and all directions simultaneously, but there also no longer exists some kind of all encompassing standard… waiting to define whether we are or we are not.
There is no need to be this or that, one can simply, be.
There is a certain flow to this existence that we must retrain ourselves to become a part of. A special kind of presence that is waiting for us to tune back in. I think it time we let go of this, either half empty or half full, notion. Because in all reality, we will never be truly empty, nor shall we ever achieve complete fullness. We are not on our way towards either.
To me, life is much less about figuring out how to answer these questions, and much more about figuring out how to let go of them.