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Of late, I’ve found myself reading books — both fiction and non-fiction — that, on the whole, are probably more negative than positive. Some might say, then, literature that properly reflects reality. Those old contrarians, eh?
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In some ways, such reading gives me a sense of comfort. That is, no matter how mediocre or unfulfilling I may think my situation is, I can rest assured that it could always be worse.
In fact, this could be viewed as a positive attitude to have. Look on the bright side, view the “glass of fulfilment” as half full rather than half empty.
In addition, residing and socialising in a working-class neighbourhood in what is on the whole no more than a middle-income nation gives one daily examples of this things-could-be-worse scenario, financially speaking in any case.
Yet, few of us are truly happy with our lot at any given time. There’s always something that we’d like to change, something that we’re working on that isn’t quite yet how we want it to be.
‘To borrow from an Irish folk song, ‘what’s done is done, what’s won is won and what’s lost is lost and gone forever.”‘
This is natural and generally salutary, of course. On a planet and in a universe that are constantly in motion, nothing remains stagnant, as much as we may want it to. Situations evolve and dissolve. At times, this is beneficial for us, on other occasions, it’s not.
A corollary is that life’s highs are but fleeting. A somewhat comforting counterpoint is that the circumstances that create the lows soon change, even if we struggle to pick ourselves up.
Thus, longing for halcyon days of yore is about as useful as overly focusing on past traumas.
Yes, such experiences define and shape us, they are part of who we are, yet regularly ruminating on them runs the risk of missing out on personal enhancement in the here and now.
To borrow from an Irish folk song, The Town I Loved So Well, ‘what’s done is done, what’s won is won and what’s lost is lost and gone forever.’
While that can be considered overly negative — particularly in terms of ‘what’s lost’ — the positive in it is that as long as one remains a functioning being, there are things that can still be won.
So rather than perhaps being disappointed when viewing the glass as half empty, look at the scope for advancement to add to the quality — or otherwise — of what’s already been poured.
For when we stop trying to fill this metaphorical glass, or if we believe it’s already at a satisfactory level, we’ll most likely be inundated by life’s vagaries.
And when it is actually “full”, that’s the day we’re done. The glass and the liquid left within it shall be our legacy.
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