Filling my cup
And hopefully lifting another
As mentioned in a few earlier posts, this year I laced up my ice skates for my first hockey season since my diagnosis. After a bit of digging, I discovered it had been 3,164 days between my last game in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) and my first game in our local hockey league earlier this year. In that time the Canberran AIHL team, the CBR Brave, have become a powerhouse of hockey in Australia:
Winning two AIHL National Championships,
Placing runners up twice, and
Breaking almost every AIHL record in existence in the process.
It is exciting to see players that I grew up with on state and national teams now at the top of the AIHL.
At the end of last year I had a chance to play in a Brave exhibition match. This led to an offer to play for the Bulls in our local hockey league. Due to the unpredictability of my health, this was a big decision for J and I to commit to, but after a number of conversations we decided I should give it a shot.
Things didn’t quite go to plan with two bouts of covid during the regular season. But in the end I was able to play 10 of our 20 regular season games and scraped through the eligibility requirements for the play-offs. After narrowly missing out on both the minor premiership and securing a guaranteed place in the grand final, we faced off with third place Jokerit in a semi-final last Sunday. It was a tight back-and-forth game and we were fortunate to come out with a 4-3 win against a very competitive team. We now head into the grand final against our rivals the Blades (head to head this season we’ve had 3 Wins, 3 Losses and 1 Tie).
Ps. If anyone is interested in watching a game of local hockey, the finals will be held this Saturday (24th September) at 6:30pm at Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre.
When reflecting upon the season I thought it interesting that I had played exactly half of the regular season. I immediately thought of the glass half full or empty argument. Had I missed half our games, or had I been able to play half our games? Would my answer reveal whether I was an optimist or pessimist? As I contemplated this further I realised the inadequacy of such absolute categorisations.
The first problem I have with the half full/empty viewpoint is the provision of only two extreme ways of looking at something. It either is or it isn’t. I believe history is littered with examples of why such thinking is dangerous. It polarises communities and stirs up conflict. This is an example of a closed-ended question that encourages a narrow-minded answer, and consequently I think there are very few situations in life where this type of question is useful. I think we should ask broader, more open-ended questions that facilitate discussion and the building of both understanding and empathy.
For example, with a little creative liberty I would argue that the half full/empty question is an oxymoron (of sorts) as it forces us to focus on the quantity of water and ignore broader interpretations — like what we have in abundance in this situation, air. Humans can survive approximately three minutes without air, and three days without water. So why are we so fixated on the water in the glass? The glass is arguably full with two things we need to survive. When air is in abundance it is natural to focus on what we have less access to, the water. But if we were in a cave filling up with water we’d probably be more interested in the air that the glass contains. My point is that closed-ended questions often force us to neglect the broader context or miss opportunities of gratitude. For example, my hockey season can be quantifiably measured by the games I did and did not play, like the amount of water in the proverbial cup. But the air for me in this situation is being a part of a team again, it is less obvious but it surrounds and fills the cup regardless of the amount of water present. Being a part of a team is something I haven’t always appreciated, I took it for granted growing up. It was just a normal part of my life. Now, however, it is something I am deeply grateful for because I have known isolation and loneliness.
The second problem I have with the half full/empty question is that it asks you to derive a conclusion from a single piece of information. I would argue that more questions are needed and should be asked. For example, what were the events that proceeded the water level reading. Was the water being added or removed, what influenced this? Did you want water in the cup in the first place? Do you need a certain amount of water to perform another task? What is the structural integrity of the glass? Does the water need to be stored for a period of time? How will the humidity levels, atmospheric pressure and temperature affect the evaporation or condensation of the water? Am I likely to gain or lose water in this process?
Subsequently, it comes as no surprise that such questions begin to reveal the influence and interplay of our past experiences, the current observable state and assumptions of what might happen next — and how all of these factors come together to shape our interpretation. Like the cup being half-full/empty, in life we can assert that a situation or person is either this or that. But maybe exploring the situation more deeply than its surface appearance may yield greater understanding and patience. Maybe the walls between us may appear a little lower, and the distance between us a little shorter. But to achieve this we must be willing to create the time and space to challenge and test our assumptions.
Black and white thinking tells me to avoid difficult circumstances. That things are either a pass or a failure. It tells me to give up on things because I’ll never be as good or healthy as I once was. Gratitude tells me to appreciate the experience and to consider a broader context. That life is not a pass or fail. That I might not ever be ‘healthy’ again, but this shouldn’t stop me from trying to make the most of where I’m at. Can you relate to such thinking and what are some ways that you counter it? I’d love to know.
I can say with conviction that hockey this year has filled many personal cups for me and has been extremely rewarding… but I reckon it will be even more sweet if we lift a league cup after the game on Saturday. Let’s go Bulls!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in
Farrrrrk I love these sorts of questions. Great article!
"I think there are very few situations in life where this type of question is useful. I think we should ask broader, more open-ended questions that facilitate discussion and the building of both understanding and empathy."
Ageed mate, btw I think it's awesome to see you're able to play Ice Hockey still, such an incredibly skillful game!