Neil Travis - Mar 24, 2014


Is the cup half empty or half full? That's an old conundrum which posits a question where both statements are correct, depending upon your perspective. It's said that the person that views the cup as half empty is a pessimist and the person that views the cup as half full is an optimist.

With advancing age it becomes easier and easier to be pessimistic. The old body no longer is able to do the things that it did just a short few years ago. Eyes that, just a few years ago, could see a sized #20 fly floating in a riffle at 20 yards away can't see that same fly in the palm of your hand today without glasses. The rocks in the river are slicker than they were before, the current is stronger and your balance is uncertain. Is the cup half empty or half full? How you answer that question will determine how you react to these realities.

First, we need to come to grip with the reality that these changes come to all of us. They may develop slowly over time or they may come upon us suddenly, but they will come upon all of us.

Secondly, we need to adapt to those changes. My late wife had cancer for 26 years. Over the years it cost her left leg at the hip, the lower lobe of her left lung, and a sizeable portion of muscle in her right hip and ultimate it took her life. Over all those years I never heard her say, "I can't." She continued her duties as the children's librarian at our city/county library; we hiked, canoed, camped and traveled. She always saw the cup of life as half full, and she lived every moment to the fullest.

Having passed my three score and ten I have learned to adapt to the inevitable changes that come with growing older. There are some places that I don't wade anymore, and I occasionally use a wading staff even in the softer water. I rely on my ability to make accurate casts so that I have some idea where that size 20 fly is on the water. I use magnification to help me find the eye of that tiny fly and when I'm tying one in the vice. I'm thankful for these things and I'm not too proud to use them. My cup of life is more than half full and I intend to continue to sip it slowly and enjoy each sip.

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