It’s the old well known saying, “Is the cup half full or half empty?” It is both, just according to the way you look at it.
“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst . . . a spark that creates EXTRA ORDINARY RESULTS“.
That quotation is imprinted on the reverse side of my personal calling card. It is the way you look at life, not the way life looks at you. The apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Many things about life are not yours to choose. You didn’t choose your mother and father at birth. You really didn’t choose to be born at all. Your body build, your facial qualities – They are distinctly yours, not by choice but by nature itself. You may improve your looks, but, like painting a barn, doesn’t change the structure of the barn. Your DNA is distinctly yours.
The father complained to his son, “Think positively son, you can do it.” The boy replied, “I’m thinking positive Dad, I know I can’t do it”! You didn’t choose your date of birth or where you grew up. Your educational opportunities, your career choices or your relationships are all yours by choice. What you choose is the attitude you will take toward all things. You don’t have to wallow in self-pity or be defeated. The cup is not half empty, it’s half full!
Beverly Sills was a famous opera singer. When she died of inoperable lung cancer she was 78 years old. She left a legacy of achievements as a performer, celebrity and advocate of the fine arts. As the New York Times put it, “she demystified opera” for many Americans. She was a good humorist who was willing to appear with Johnny Carson and the Muppets to prove, in her words, “opera isn’t just “fat ladies with horned helmets”.
Beverly was born in Brooklyn to emigrant parents. Her Russian-born mother had dreams that her talented daughter would become a Jewish Shirley Temple and pushed her into singing and tap-dancing for radio shows. Her Romanian-born father put a stop to that in favor of formal voice training and school. At 16, she began 10 years of touring with opera companies.
Only in 1955, after eight failed auditions over a three year period, she was accepted in the New York City Opera. Her professional break-through came in 1966, and she became one of the best known and most universally hailed artists of the 20th century.
Happy ever after? Is the cup half full or is it empty? Ms. Sills and her journalist husband, Peter Greenough, had a daughter that was born deaf. Two years later they had a son that was born Autistic. At that time no one really knew much about autism.
Perhaps it was adversity that kept Ms. Sills from taking stardom too seriously. She seemed to enjoy comedic roles even after her much heralded in high-brow operatic roles. She reflected on her triumphs and tragedies in an interview given in 2005. “Man plans and God laughs,” she said. “I have often said I’ve never considered myself a happy woman. How could I with all that’s happened to me? But I’m a cheerful woman. Work keeps me singing.”
Is the cup half empty or half full? The old song sung by Nat King Cole would simply remind us that “INTO EACH LIFE SOME RAIN MUST FALL, BUT TOO MUCH IS FALLING IN MINE“.
Many great people in the world have risen above the average and ordinary because they did not quit but worked more diligently in the face of serious odds. An example of this is the great tract star, Glen Cunningham. Born 1909 and died 1988. While lighting a stove as a boy in Kansas, it exploded, burning his legs so badly that he was told he would never walk again. He not only walked but became one of the world’s great mile runners, setting a world record in 1938 with a time of four minutes and four-tenth of a second that stood for a number of years. By accepting his handicap and working harder, his name has gone down in history as the greatest runner of his times.
Our middle son Bob got polio at the age of two. Now 56 years later, a university graduate, he has developed a keen understanding of life. “Do you miss walking”, I asked one day? “No,” he replied. “I never knew what it was like”. Yet today, he continues to help organize the Lake City Wheel Chair Basketball team.
Years ago, when Sir Winston Churchill addressed the graduating class of a great English University, he rose to speak the shortest address of his illustrious life. He said to the graduates, “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER Give Up!!”
The sweet singer of Israel wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. MY CUP RUNNETH OVER.”