What Is a Glass Half Empty?

And as I have reached Day Eighteen of Everyday Inspiration, I got a prompt to use a map as my muse. “Maps that tell tales about ourselves and the places we come from, that we miss, that we’ve reshaped in our minds. We use maps to identify locations, track movements, and to make sense of our lives, past and present.”

I have been all over the place with the map’s prompt, literally, and my head burst with possibilities and no focus.

That happened for maps awaken my dream to visit every place, in every latitude and longitude of this planet, and elicit that excitement of preparing for the journey and arriving at the destination I had longed for. But maps also evoke memories of what I have been and have become.

What road to take now? Travel the world, or go for a quick tour of what I have been or have become, by freezing a given moment in my memory lane?

I would need to zoom in and adjust the settings of this post’s navigation, and to do you and me a favor, and set a destination, one that we can get to, still today.

If I map out a few characteristics that friends use to identify myself, there will be a lot of consistency and alignment with my self-image. There is a relative of mine though, who somehow sees people only through her religious belief, and her attachment to the region she was born. That simply means that you’re unworthy if you don’t share the same religion or were not born in the same area that she was. That is where my picture shows in the map. I don’t fit. I am not protestant and I wasn’t born in her city.

She reached her 9th decade, healthy, mentally active and in good shape, but a lonely widow, who tends to subtract life’s moments of happiness from her memory, and instead multiply endless possibilities of future events that might go wrong. She may have Alzheimer’s, she may become sick, she may…whatever. And there is nothing one can say to convince her that her life could be beautiful.

My husband and I went for a visit today. We drove one hour and a half to the city where she lives. First I baked a cake for her. It seldom happens that I forget something in the oven, but today I did. I surgically removed the burnt edges of the cake, already forecasting the future commentary on a failed cake. I crossed my fingers and we headed to her city.

It was a rainy, gray day with heavy and dark clouds. Those days that make for great pictures, if you see the glass half full, but can also be seen as depressing, when your glass is half empty. That is the kind of glass from where my relative drinks life every day. I brought my camera though, and set the shutter speed to snap photos from a moving car. My husband was driving, of course.

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My heart was slightly racing in anticipation for a heavy day, as we approached the city. I had mixed feelings. One side of me wanted to help her, and the other one was dreading what I was about to hear for the umpteenth time.

I am not always right but I can never go wrong with her predictability. My cake was obviously heartily welcome but I had to explain countless times what and why it went wrong, and what I have missed from the recipe. I was also reminded that the edges were not good and that it was not a normal apple cake; eventually, I heard that it tasted good, though.

To understand her mood, one needs to accept that she will be unhappy if it rains because is cold, and unhappy in equal measure, if it is sunny, just because is hot.

In between complaints just about anything, she complimented me on my hairstyle and appearance. I was pleasantly surprised, but before I could even enjoy the flattering second, she enumerated at least five reasons why I looked better, but all of those had vivid details on how bad I actually always look, on her perception. I took the high road and jokingly replied that I had gone through plastic surgery. I thought that this would put an end to the story. It didn’t.

When we were about to leave, she turned to me once more, repeating the same soundtrack on how different and better I looked today, to finally conclude that I had used Botox. I started counting to 5,000, bid farewell and kept counting until I reached the car, still smiling, to keep my cool head. Note to reader: She may not have noticed that when I smiled, all my facial muscles moved, just because I didn’t use Botox!

That is how my afternoon mood ended: feeling sorry and sad for someone, who wastes every connection, every attention she gets, and every new day of the time she still has on Earth, by spoiling every opportunity she has to make it worth it.

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate slave, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do, when I want.

28 thoughts on “What Is a Glass Half Empty?

  1. Oh, Lucile. Time to move on. She won’t so you must. Gosh, what do we call that? A backhanded compliment. I laugh when people compliment me at work with a ‘Oh, you look so good today?’ Of course, snarky little me asks, “How shitty did I look yesterday?” Always takes them by surprise. Always makes them laugh. Me, too. And then I walk away. I won’t allow myself to get caught up in that.
    Your intentions were stellar, though, and that says so very much about you! So…did that Botox hurt? 🙂

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    1. Haha, Lois. Brilliant comment. It feels exactly like that, and you make the joke and they still don’t get it. Thanks for sharing how to call those ‘lovely’ compliments: backhanded. I learnt a new word.
      About the Botox? No, it didn’t hurt. I’m still laughing…You’re hilarious.

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  2. Oh dear…I’ve met a few of these in my time. And they end up lonely, compounding their gloom…. Am I lucky, I ask myself, because I can almost always be upbeat, focus on the good things in life, even when things are going badly ….well, I trust I shall always be this way

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  3. Hmmm, my comment didn’t come through. People like that are toxic to themselves and others. I think you can either just stay away from them (if possible) or go in knowing they’ll be that way and trying to let it roll off your back. How sad! Your last paragraph is so true.

    janet

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  4. While the lady’s behaviour is quite horrible, I sort of get her (don’t shoot me). Sometimes you just can’t help yourself and are negative to people around you, though you well know that it’s not what you want to do. On the other hand, when it’s not “sometimes” but “always”, then something is clearly wrong.

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  5. This is the best line I’ve read in ages: tends to subtract life’s moments of happiness from her memory, and instead multiply endless possibilities of future events that might go wrong.
    We all know people like that unfortunately. We call them backhanded compliments too.
    I love the way you tell this tale.

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  6. I hope you will find this comment an improvement over my previous comments, works that were horrible, I know, but be free to tell me. I am curious to see what drives the engine of your relative, I believe it may be a very common fuel that causes global interference with more upbeat attitudes to our existence.

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