Clichés, sayings, old wives tales are often mocked and scorned. Overused, hackneyed, not to be used, especially in advice to writers or public speakers. It is true they are, but they are overused because the general population discovered they did comfortably express what they felt. They serve a purpose: security, comfort, effortlessness and clear understanding.
When I was a girl, oh so many years ago, one of my favourite expressions was the ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, my grandmothers would say it frequently and with great assurance. When I showed confusion they explained it really only referred to dark heavy clouds. Their explanation of how it applied to life passed me by, at the time all I heard was silver linings. Dark, moody, heavy skies would be, in my imagination, slate grey coloured velvet, soft and voluptuous and to my mind the lining would be silver silk or maybe, if one was really lucky, real silver somehow miraculously transformed into cloth. I would run out in anticipation after the rain had ceased hoping the sun may flash off that lining.
It was a good saying, I have discovered through life. I can only guess at the disasters my grandmothers had lived through, wandering back through two world wars, the Boer war, diseases and infant / sibling mortality. The two of them lived quietly upstairs and never inflicted their woes on us children. However even in my lucky life I have found the truth many a time. I say lucky as I belong to a generation and a country that has managed not to have a war on their shores throughout my lifetime, have lived in the time of drugs to fend off disease, a time when infant mortality has plummeted. But angst still happens.
Take Dyspraxia now, it wasn’t even invented when I was a child. Friends were impossible I never knew how one made those. I am still amazed over a half century later that my friend from forever/editor ever decided I was a friend. She was the only one, however looking back it was this friendless state of affairs which helped to make me self contained, imaginative, sure of myself as a person, happy with my own company. It enabled me to ignore peer pressure, to walk my own walk and to get on with life without the fear of what others would think. Silver indeed, gold really:)
From no through roads on career choices, to thwarted desires in travel plans, from seeming bad luck in relationships to disasters in health. Always when life seem to throw a case load of spanners into the works with time and a different perspective it seems life was correct to do so. ‘What ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ are the most useless collection of sounds ever. One could spend a lifetime uttering them and gaining no ground at all. Some-times what happens is ‘for the best’, other-times you can make it ‘for the best’, both-times life can be put on track and started again, just in another direction and with excitement and promise ahead.
There have been many times when a path has been blocked, obstacles have been insurmountable, when despair at the wreckage of plans could, if allowed, paralyse. Each occasion has eventually shown the magic lining – I admit, sometimes it takes a few years and some patience to notice the silver but it always has appeared. It has always been a matter of viewing it correctly.
When I had my crashing fall which sent me into hospital for a month of too many operations and encased me in plaster for eight months just at a time when my mother’s health was rapidly deteriorating, it seemed fate had ripped away my working life too soon, forcing early retirement and relative poverty on me. Had prevented me continuing in my attempt at a PhD, had left me with permanently damaged and painful bones and joints in ankle and wrist. Well, yes it had, but looking back over the last twelve years I celebrate the accident.
Without that particular spanner in the works life would probably not be so good now. We might never have moved to the best place ever (I love it here) enabled my mother to have a more comfortable last few years, made friends with a particularly great young person, begun writing (the be all of my life) built this abode, within whose walls I am contentedly contemplating not moving for the rest of my life – only a cardboard box will take me out! Moi, who has on average moved every few years.
My grannies were correct, as grannies often are. One needs to take a step or six sideways, turn one’s head slightly and maybe lean back and then from the new viewpoint that magical ‘silver lining’ shines forth.