The Opportunity in a Glass Half Empty

We have a glass inside of us that is gradually filled with experience; this glass is not made of crystal or any regular material, as it resembles our chest—a container that expands and contracts as we breathe. When we arrive at a new place, our inner glass expands in the same way our chest does when we take a big breath to prepare for our first steps; in a bigger container, the experience that filled it drops, making our glass feel suddenly half empty. This happens not only because of the empty space on the upper half, but also because what fills the bottom half starts to feel useless.

Even a great explorer of the forest would be tempted to describe their experience as “useless” if they ever found themself in a desert. The immediate value of what we know depends on where we are, so relocating yourself often means that a lot of what you carefully kept in your glass—more than just street names and slang—starts to feel like it’s only taking up space.

The word opportunity derives from the Latin phrase ob portum veniens, whose literal translation would be “coming to port,” the perfect analogy: a person who is constantly exploring the horizon and observing it attentively is more likely to detect a port and guide their course towards it. There’s nothing that inspires a person to be aware of their surroundings more than a totally new environment; the constant feeling of having too much to learn enhances our senses, as routine and familiarity dulls them.

We start filling our glass so fast that we don’t allow ourselves the right amount of time to process all this new content, making our inner glass suddenly seem half full. We could start second guessing what to include in this diminished space, or we can navigate in its miscellaneous content. Eventually, similarities appear, and differences stop competing for space as they start complementing each other.

But deciding whether a glass is half full or empty is not only about the content as it about us as a container. Growing is about acknowledging the immensity of what remains to be known; if our glass feels emptier, it’s because we have grown as a container. So, we shouldn’t try to minimize our empty space because that’s where opportunity can be found.