Silver lining

A silver lining by any light — Photo by Cheryl Fitzgerald

I often think living in places that are not distinctly suburban, rural, or gentrified has one silver lining–a particular strength that would come from navigating a place that’s a bit uphill.  Not to say that things are entirely easy anywhere, but the very notion of those locales has been crafted with an eye to keeping certain people at bay.  If you don’t fit (or maybe look with puppy dog eyes at) a certain mold, they’re not supposed to be easy to get to.

As for anywhere else, life can be a bit of a ghetto.  That word is most often used quite disparagingly and mockingly — or in a sort of romanticized way that embraces the harshness of life.  If you think about it for a while, it’s funny how a word that stems from ‘romantic’ isn’t entirely conducive to the best of what’s actually there.  It’s just what we wish was there.  So ghettoes, which, as the Williams character played by Jim Kelly in Enter the Dragon put it, “. . . are the same all over the world.  They stink.”

Of course, it’s easy to see things that way once you have a basis for comparison.  You really never know things stink until some else tells you or you get a whiff of what doesn’t.  Then, for every bit larger one’s notion of the world may get, it can still shrink in other ways.  No ghetto is devoid of positives–universal ones, at that.  To see them beyond some easy, romantic light, one typically has to see any such place as much as a defining part of the world as they know it as any place else.  It’s more scenic to do otherwise, and who doesn’t want a scenic route that doesn’t challenge or wear one down?

Maybe that’s the point of romanticizing anything.  Especially in some place defined by litter and indifference, finding the good is harder than already seeing just enough of it on some pedestal already.  The former can actually be mind-numbingly tiring.  So what’s the point of trying to find a thorough silver lining?  Maybe because, most simply, finding something that has qualities by any light is obviously better than something with a lot of qualities under one.  Even if it’s rareness doesn’t make for much silver lining.  That’s what funny is for, I suppose.

I always thought, by the way, that when the Williams character in Enter the Dragon spoke about ghettoes stinking, he didn’t just mean it in the obvious way.  People living hard lives stinks in the sense that it’s messed up. (This isn’t the funny.)


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