Glass (half full? half empty?)

The glass isn’t half empty, or half full. It is half a glass of water. Simple. See? No “positive” or “negative” spin. It just is, with no definition or judgment.

See how we are shaped to think in certain ways when we are given only certain choices? Our language frames us. We are shaped by it. When you are asked to decide whether the glass is half empty or half full, you aren’t actually being given a choice. It looks like it. But really, the smartest thing you can do is to step back from the question and wonder why the person is trying to get you to decide either way. Whoever is asking you wants to define you. Are you an optimist, or a pessimist?

In reality, the glass is half full and half empty at the same time. You can look at it however you want, and it has nothing to do with your perspective. There is only half a glass of water. Defining it as half-full or half-empty does nothing for the amount of water.

Sure, you can get excited that you have some water to drink, or you can get sad that you don’t have a full glass of water to drink. Or, far healthier for your head, you can just notice that there is half a glass of water. It isn’t full, and it isn’t empty. It is right in the middle.

A lot of our problems come from a need to define something as good or bad. Often we define it in relation to ourselves – does it benefit me, or harm me? Often we define it in relation to our experience at the moment. We don’t have the full picture, so we decide something is bad at the time, when later we think it is good, or vice versa. Situations change. We change.

But sometimes the issue is that we are tricked. We are asked to define something that doesn’t need defining. Someone points out something for us to notice, and by omission we don’t notice everything else. It is a pretty powerful trick. Look over here, meanwhile the real action is going over somewhere else.

If you ask a child if she wants to wear the blue jumper or the red jumper, you’ve deftly sidestepped the issue of maybe she doesn’t want to wear a jumper at all. Maybe she wants to wear a sarong or a sweater. And maybe she doesn’t want to get dressed to go out right now and wants to stay in her pajamas.

Be wary of how you are being directed and channeled. See what is there.

Poem – ocean dream, and boundaries

I had a dream I was walking in an alien land,
foreign, unknown, different.
No map, no guide.

I found a necklace, an artifact
that spoke of the souls of the place.
It spoke of the time before,
to the spirits that were there, then.
It was a guide, of sorts,
a map of where I was but not a map
of where to go.

As I walked under an old abandoned building
– under, because it was like an oil rig in the sea,
like a house by the shore built on stilts,
the necklace spoke.

It spoke with the voice of an octopus long past.
She spoke to me of that place
of the history,
of what was there in the time before.

I got a sense of green,
the color green of the light
of a July day married with the sea.
The color green
of seaweed and sand,
of silvery fish and shimmering sharks.

It was warm, yet cool,
and safe only because I wasn’t there at that time.
The octopus spoke to me of the time before the house,
when she was there with her octopus friends,
looking up, seeing the sky through the lens of
ocean water.

Now it is desert.
Now nothing swims here,
not even a goldfish in a bowl
swimming round and round and round
with no way out.

People moved in after the sea got smaller.
They had a beachside view.
They built their house on stilts
to protect against the sea’s inevitable rise.
They thought that the sea might attack their house,
never realizing that they were the interlopers,
they were the trespassers.

But there was no clash, no war.
The sea never rose.
The sea slunk away
like a bad dog,
like a shamed child.
The sea retreated,
like an abandoned army.

The people in the house saw the
desert begin to bloom around
their seaside resort,
their former seaside resort,
and they too retreated.
They left for another test of wills
on another shoreline,
another boundary.

Why must we explore only to destroy?
Why must we encounter the other
only to suppress, to dominate, to make docile?

These boundaries of place and people are the same to us.

The other is not the enemy,
whether it be the ocean, a forest,
a religion, a language, a culture.

When we try to shape the other
into ourselves
we both lose.

It speaks to our fear
that if it is not-us,
then either they
or we
are wrong.

Time to change that perception.
Here’s to new glasses, new eyes.

Here’s to boundaries becoming welcome spaces
where we encounter ourselves,
just with different faces.