My sister Susan is new to Facebook. She’s a big executive who works very hard and doesn’t have time for such things. But one day, not too long ago, she went on Facebook, and, like the rest of us, was slyly drawn in.
At first, she was just a blank avatar who did some likes and shares. Next, she posted some photos from her smart phone – and a profile picture of her gorgeous self. And then she found the WHO YOU ARE tests. You know, the ones that ask which colors or animals or whatever you like best and then tell you Who You Are (or Who You Were in a previous life!).
I rarely if ever do those tests. Partly because that would force me to face how much time I am wasting on stupid things on Facebook. I’m also a little nervous that I’ll get bad results. While Susan always gets and posts things like, “Your heart is red. You are full of passion, kindness, and love,” I might get: “Your heart is black. You need to think more of others.”
Well, yesterday she called me and we were chatting away, and then she went for the kill. “I did another one of those tests on Facebook,’ she said. “And they told me that I’m a very rare person. I see the glass both half empty and half full!”
Wow, I said. I didn’t even know that was an option. I thought the world was divided into two: those who see half empty and those who see half full. And I feared I often fall into the former. Sure, there are days when I feel such joy and gratitude that the glass feels brimming. But lately, when so many friends have died or are seriously ill, when so many young people feel lost, refugees are drowning, the whole planet seems endangered, and I nonetheless feel overwhelmed by my own small problems … I take the half-full days as a blessing.
Then I thought about it some more, and one of those bulbs went off over my head. “Susan!” I exclaimed. “That’s it! That’s the answer! The glass is both half empty and half full! And we need to see BOTH!”
Yes, some of my closest friends have died, and I fear losing others. But my love and appreciation for each of them only grows stronger. And so does my realization that we are all dying, which can lead to depression, or a greater love of each day, or both: half empty, half full.
Yes, I know children who have lost their way and are deeply suffering. But this opens my heart. And if I reach out to help, there is the joy of connection. Half empty, half full.
Yes, so many people are in crisis, and some lost souls are shooting others for confusing reasons, and politics have become a gladiator sport, and our beloved Earth is in trouble.
But I just saw a documentary of a man’s love for his dying dog and the dog’s love for the man.
And my grandsons and I spent an hour on YouTube watching straight and gay folks make surprise, over-the-top marriage proposals in public, while their friends and family danced in the streets like some Debby Reynolds/Gene Kelly movie from the 50s, and it all made me cry.
And Al Gore is feeling optimistic about climate change. And the California condor is returning. And there are daily acts of kindness. And the first flowers of spring. And the warmth we feel when we smile at a stranger and they smile back. And, as Hemingway wrote, the sun also rises.
It’s a quote from the Bible, Ecclesiastes. “The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose.”
So yes. The glass is both. Half empty and half full. Always was. Always will be.
It was a trick question.