At Least I Have A GlassJune 19, 2009 Leave a comment
You know what they say—the glass is either half full or half empty, depending on your perspective. Well, I say it’s both! And the empty part has a residue, splashed up from the full part of the glass, so it’s not completely empty after all. All of this comes to mind as I mark the 10th anniversary since I was in a car accident that left me with permanent, chronic pain. This is the first time I’ve thought about how to mark the occasion. On one hand, there’s cause for great celebration. I’m alive and so are the two of my three sons who were with me that day. My husband has not spent the last ten years raising our youngest son alone. Hallelujah! The accident paved the way for us to buy a home and move our kids from three school systems into one. That’s been good for us all! And, I’ve had to adjust my understanding of what I’m physically capable of doing. That’s where the half-empty part starts to matter.
Two seconds of someone else’s carelessness has changed my life and my body forever. Ever since, I’ve been trying to displace the vision of myself as workhorse, resisting the reality of more fragile and limited images. There’s some good news in the bad news—some residue on the sides of the empty part of my glass. I’ve had to reconsider how much I can do, how much I want to do, and how much of that activity really matters. Not that I’ve figured it out, but that I’ve payed more and more attention to asking the right questions. I’ve been trying to follow Rilke’s advice: “Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
I think it’s the same in organizational and community life. Our glasses are both half full and half empty. We can rejoice in the half fullness; struggle with the half emptiness; all the time striving to perceive the residue on the edges of the empty part. And we live into the questions of meaning. What should we do? What must we do? What must leave aside? Does the empty or the full part of the glass deserve more attention right now? I’m still living my way into my own answers. Meanwhile, I can say with certainty, I’m glad that at least I have a glass!