Saturday, July 15, 2006

There are Two Sorts of People....

...those who believe there are two sorts of people, and those who don't. For instance, there is that perennial question: "Do you believe the glass is half full, or half empty?"

Well. I dunno. It all depends on context, doesn't it? If I am pouring liquid into a glass, and I pause to check the level, then it is half full. If I'm eating dinner in a swanky restaurant, with the wine waiter hovering to top up my glass as I drink (which incidentally I find very rude), then it is half empty.

Show me a picture of a glass, the water level at the half way line, and no context to judge by, and then I am not quite sure. I think I would probably say half full. Unless it is a really, really hot day, and I'm thirsty, and I'd probably say "That's all there is to drink? It's half empty!"

What I really want is a neat and tidy way of saying "That glass contains half of its total capacity of water." But I wouldn't say that, it sounds really awkward. Which is all a way of saying that I don't see myself as an optimist - I'd make a lousy salesman. Apparently the best qualification for that job is the ability to just keep on, assuming that even if the last hundred people didn't buy anything, that big sale is just around the corner. On the other hand, I don't think I'm a total pessimist either. I don't assume things are going to get a whole lot better, but I don't assume they are going to get a whole lot worse either.

Which is why a passage in a book I am reading jumped out at me. The book is The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. (A very interesting book, by the way). And this is the passage:

In the game of evolution, is it better to be monogamous or polygamous? Gentle or aggressive? Cooperative or selfish?...Optimistic, pragmatic, or pessimistic?

There's the word that hit me - I don't have to be optimistic or pessimistic. I'm "pragmatic". I think it fits me perfectly.

5 comments:

tommy said...

Michele sent me.

It's half a glass of water, but it's just sitting there, not doing anything, no circulation. It's going to go stagnant and then bugs are going to start living there, mosquitoes will begin to breed in it. Lots and lots of disease, some pretty bad, it's probably be the cause of some nasty epidemic or some such.

It's much better to just pour it out. Then it's easy, it's empty. Safer too.

Catherine said...

Hah! Very funny. How about if it was half a glass of brandy? Brandy would kill the bugs, right?

Shane said...

heh heh, you would make a lousy salesman, but a decent comedian

rashbre said...

Its always more fun being positive and the vibe is infectious. So an optimistic pragmatist would be an interesting classification?

rashbre

RomanWhite said...

I'll take a half glass OF Brandy over water . . . right now anyway. Eith way, the glass is just going to dry up eventually and be completely empty . . . unless it rains. hehe.

Michele sent me!