We are all in the gutter, just some of us can’t look at the stars


“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,” claimed Oscar Wilde.  Some of us, I think, simply can’t.  Whilst I may be brandished as being pessimistic, depressed, negative and so on (which are, undeniably, qualities of mine) this is the ultimate reality of modern day society.  

For Wilde, we all sit in the same boat and some of us choose not to look up into that dark sky that covers our world. That place, scattered with stars and in those stars; dreams, hopes, optimism, drive and passion.  For some of us, looking up into that sky and grasping onto dreams is merely that- a dream.  A dream to dream.  

I am the kind of person that looks at a glass and sees it as half empty and not half full, that’s just the way I am.  I look at the world and I see it flooded with misery, and at times, a bit of that misery pours out, and in shines a tiny star, a tiny little glimmer of sunshine and that’s just the way things are.  It is all very well saying we’re all in this gutter together and some of us, arguably the ‘better’ ones, make that positive choice to look up and hold onto that light.  But you see, some of us just simply can’t.

Everyone at some point has their own little star that floats above, resting, until you need it.  Yet, not all of us are lucky to have a star that lasts their whole lifetime as something to look up to, to keep them going, to make them smile when they most need it to hold onto.  Not all of us can look up into the sky and see it filled with dreams, not all of us can see it filled at all; just a void of emptiness. When that star burns up, looking up into that same sky becomes an impossibility.

You see, what I’m trying to say is some of us just don’t have the ability to look up from the gutter to stare into the deep universe and wish and plan and push for a future; to work for a better life for themselves.  Some of us simply have to put up with the gutter for now, make do with it and only wish they could look up and grasp onto that glimmer of hope.  

Things happen to us in the gutter and those things change us and whilst you may have been able to look up to the stars at one point when you were running around your back garden in your pyjamas, for some reason you no longer can.  Whilst mental illness isn’t something that defines anyone, it is a part of who we are. It’s about time we started acknowledging that sometimes it is okay not to see that glass as half full or to bend your neck and smile at the stars. Some people just simply can’t and nobody should ever be made to feel like they had the choice to.

Yes we are all in this gutter together; but to look up is a dream and we need to stop implying such is to do with choice.

Photograph: Dianne Lacourciere via Flickr and Creative Commons

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