Empty Glasses


In many inspirational stories, there tends to be a certain pattern that they all follow—with its own unique variants, of course.

  • Protagonist gets into a conflict.
  • As s/he nears the deep end, the protagonist fights his/her demons
  • Protagonist learns valuable lesson which makes him/her stronger

[CAUTION:  the following paragraph contains book/movie spoilers]
Just a couple that come to mind. The Shawshank Redemption: Red is sent to prison, and it isn’t until his friend dies, another one momentarily leaves him, and he is released from prison that he understands the meaning of hope.  October Sky:  Homer, an adolescent rocket engineer, is arrested for allegedly firing a rocket that started a forest fire.  It isn’t until Homer gives up his love for rockets and drops out of school that he finds the will—and smarts—to prove his innocence.  From there, Homer continues with rocketry and becomes a renowned engineer.

Yes, not all inspirationals follow this suit—and even the term “inspirational” is quite relative.  Nevertheless, these stories pull at many of our hearts for a reason, and I find that to be because we can relate to them.  It is completely human to face trials—to get deep into the mire and feel hopeless.  While Hollywood may bloat the ending and not focus on the trial long enough, the end result is not unrealistic.  There can be hope and lessons learned at the end of our trials.

But what brings us to hope?
How do we climb out of the metaphorical bog?
My take:  humility.

As the adage goes:  “you can’t fill a cup that’s already full.”  [Man, there are so many idioms with glasses and water percentages]  And how much more with us humans?  If an individual claims to know everything, how can life offer its lessons?  How can we observe what’s really going on when we have our teeth clenched and eyes shut as we claim to be the victim?  It is only when we are on our knees, with hands and eyes open, that we can fully understand our next step.

Yet humility is such a dirty word in our society, as the definition is: “a modest opinion or estimate of one’s importance, rank, etc.”  That isn’t exactly encouraging.  That said, don’t get me wrong:  I believe we all have the capacity to be brilliant.  I am not trying to diminish learning or knowledge, nor am I commanding that we demolish our confidence into powder.  But we shouldn’t lose our perspective.  We are of dust—carbon based beings, held together by some of the weakest bonds.  For us to claim in any situation that we understand everything is a lie.

In a fast paced society, sometimes it’s important for us to slow down.  Think about the situations we are in.  Take a deep breath and lower our pride.  Maybe then, we will understand our next move.

About Jonathan Seligman

Jon is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of NWYT. While his main profession is in education/music/history, he has a deep passion for philosophy, theology, ice cream, and everything else that life has to offer. See All of Jon's Posts

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