Empty the Cup

We hear a lot about filling our cup. We need to feed our senses if we want to live a creative life. We talk about cups half full and half empty, our ability to re-fill it at will.

In a recent Michael Sandler interview with Howard White from Nike, he described his ability to ’empty his cup’, to be a vessel to be filled. This really spoke to me! I’d never heard this term used this way before. He very humbly described how the best, most pivotal moments in his life happened when he was able to listen and learn from those around him as a child. He described numerous times in his life when he was able to really listen and learn from a mentor because he was able to set aside what he believed to be true and listen to what they had to say.

I was so deeply moved by this and a little regretful. I am trying not to focus on the past, but as I write I naturally draw on memories. I recall times at school and university when potential mentors appeared, but I thought I knew where I was headed. Thank you for your input, but I’m good. When the student is ready the teacher appears, but it seems I had trouble with being open to new learning, to advice. I was blazing my own trail! It was the 80s and 90s. My role models were Alex P Keaton (Michael J Fox’s character in Family Ties) and any of the badass chicks from Melrose Place. There was no place for weakness, vulnerability or bad shoes! It was your money or your life.

Get rich or die trying. The 80s in all their post-modern glory.

As I watch this now, I watch Tom Hanks’ character Uncle Ned and cheer! Yes! Yes! Uncle Ned for President! Why wasn’t Uncle Ned my role model? Because I was watching Family Ties through a filter of want, ambition and the drive to make something of myself. Move to New York… be a big deal! Drive a midnight-blue BMW…

My mum modeled humility like no other, but those I aspired to emulate were the ones with the flashy cars, the big houses, and the careers. The ones who dressed in power suits and carried a briefcase to work in the shiny office towers in the big city, not those who created a home and nurtured a family.

Then life happened. I got sick. The love of my life died. All kinds of stuff tied up with my adoption came to the surface. Abandonment issues and the inability to fit in anywhere started to rule my decisions and, upon closer inspection, the shiny didn’t look so shiny after all. I changed track and sought a more meaningful life.

It wasn’t easy because even though I experienced an awakening of sorts in my early 20s, I was too immature to understand what was happening, and I was so busy looking at the world through my filters and patterns, that I missed so many opportunities. I needed to grow up, my personality needed to mature.

It took 25 more years, but my awakening in 2017 was far more profound because of the personal growth in that time. Now I have learned, finally, to empty my cup, I am able to fill it anew.

To understand this concept of Growing Up and Waking up, please watch Ken Wilber explaining it. You will be glad you did.