A Matter of Perspective

I was sitting on a plane the other day next to a man.  He was dressed very casually in athletic clothes; fairly large build with more of a military haircut.  We struck up a conversation and as we were talking I noticed his arm had a knot in it with some blood near it.  It looked as though he had injured himself doing something like yard work.

I asked him “How did you hurt yourself?”

He responded by lifting his sleeve and exposing injuries that clearly came from some type of a long-term medical treatment.  He then explained to me that he has to go to dialysis three times (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) a week for three and half hours each time and the scars, inflammation, and cuts were from those experiences. What was even more interesting was he was not looking for a kidney.  He had already received a kidney; his sisters.  Unfortunately over the last three years he was in the hospital over five times with complications and infections due to his body rejecting the kidney.

By the time I had heard his story I felt bad for him.  This had obviously been difficult.  So difficult he had chosen long-tem dialysis over looking for another kidney.  Even on this trip he was going to have to go to a facility and have the dialysis all of which was coordinated prior to him leaving.  And then he shared something with me that changed my perspective.

He said “It’s not that bad.  I am alive and I get to do most of what I love.”

It turns out that he coaches baseball and football and he enjoys it tremendously.  As I think back about the conversation and his perspective, it reminded me of the old saying…

Is you glass half empty or half full?  Well his glass is half full.  How many of us can say the same thing.  We often take for granted what we have and focus on what we want or don’t have.  Sometimes we want a new home, a raise, a job, a vacation, a break from the kids, jewelry, or any number of things.  It is difficult to appreciate what is in our lives when we focus on what is currently outside it.

My friend shared a new version of the glass saying with me.  Whenever I am at a restaurant, whether my glass is half empty or half full, I still ask the waiter to refill it.  I interpret that saying as we should always reach for our best, stretch and strive for more.  We should set goals.  Goals are good.  But to continue the metaphor, we should still enjoy the meal that is being served.

What part of your “life” meal do you appreciate? What aspect of your life do you need to change your perspective on? What makes your glass half full?

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2 thoughts on “A Matter of Perspective

  1. Wow. I admire and share his perspective. Last year (01/2008) I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. I had one year left in grad school and 3 years to full retirement from the federal govt. I continued with classes even though I didn’t know how long I had to live. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I was. But, my husband and family were great. At first, I encouraged myself by saying – If I can live to see my daughter graduate from college in May – I will be happy. Well, I did. Had chemo, two surgeries, radiation and more chemo, but I GRADUATED this May. I took the offered early retirement and now, I am doing what I love. I graduated with a Masters degree in Human Resource Development with an emphasis on Training. Next month, I’m holding my first “Train-the-Trainers workshop at the local community college. It’s my first business venture. It’s exciting and nerve wracking – BUT, I get to do what I love, even with chemo, lymphadema, and all the unknowns! The glass is half-full!!!
    Thank you for sharing the inspiration.

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