A Cupful of Late Night Ramblings


CindyMurphyBlog.jpgOn a recent trip to Arizona, my brother, while hiking in the desert, came upon a sign along the trail that read, “When you’re halfway done with your water, you’re halfway done with your hike.”  Looking at what was left in his bottle, he turned around and headed back, determining his hike half over. 

The story reminded me of the glass half full/glass half empty analogy. Is the glass half empty, or half full?  It’s a question of perspective, the glass being a metaphor for life.  It’s generally thought pessimists will see the glass as being half empty, because they see only what’s missing in their lives.  An optimist, on the other hand, will view it as half full, focusing on the good things in life. 

Does this mean my brother is a pessimist for seeing his water bottle as half-empty?  Would an optimist have seen it as half-full, and say, “Hey, I’ve got plenty of water left!” only to be found later, crawling through the desert, with vultures circling overhead?

Arizona desert 

Is it ever better to see the glass half empty?

I remember the first time Keith took me to meet his parents.  A Northerner, I was unaccustomed to many things Southern – one of them being sweet tea.  At dinner, his mother poured me a glass of it, and I took a big gulp.  Sickly sweet with the consistency of syrup, it was all I could do to keep from spitting it across the table.  I stared at that half-full glass of tea, and wished it was half-empty.  Completely empty would have been better.

1/13/2012 12:17:40 PM

Michelle! You're here! And you're right...I'm positive my brother was being smart; out of us 3 kids, we always joke that he is the responsible one...my other brother probably wouldn't have even brought water on the hike, and I would have been too busy looking at the desert plants to even notice the sign. I agree too, that whether a person's glass is half-empty or half-full depends on what's in it. It's a good thing, I think, there's more than one glass to a person; if someone only had one glass, they might end up mixing drinks and be left with something even more disgusting than my mother-in-law's sweet tea. Eeeew....I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

1/12/2012 12:51:45 AM

Cindy, I remember your first published article, Keith was so proud of you, he e-mailed me and god knows who else, a link to it. And as a member of the same club as you, I truly enjoyed and laughed at the article. As for your brother? He was probably being smart. Now, my half-full half-empty attitude, depends on what it is. My bank account, probably half-empty. my drink, half-full lol. And, I loved your ramblings.

1/8/2012 4:17:38 PM

Hi, (Anonymous) Dave. I think most people would prefer to say they view the glass as half full. It seems there's sort of a stigma attached to seeing the glass as half-empty; no one wants to be viewed as a pessimist. When my brother's story about his hike triggered the half-full/half empty question in my head, I had a vague notion I'd write a humorous post about situations in which it'd be better to have a half-empty glass. As it got late into the night though, my thoughts started to wander, and I began to think that, not only does a half-empty glass mean different things to different people, but an individual views its contents differently too - that general perceptions have nothing to do with personal perspectives. Or something like that - the clarity of late night thinking is not always so clear in the light of day....especially when one's not quite wide awake yet, and the coffee cup is empty.

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