Gutter to The Stars

By Anna-Lena Plett

Oscar Wilde once said that “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” By this Wilde means that every person reaches their lowest point in life at one time or another, yet some still have hope for the future – they see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

A gutter is a place where a lot of rubbish is thrown; it is a place where the rain washes the dirt from the road. To be in a gutter means to be surrounded by dirt and filth. When Wilde uses this metaphor in his quote, he means that people can also feel like they have been thrown away. That no one cares about them anymore and that they have reached the lowest point of their lives. They feel filthy and do not see a way out of their situation.

Many people reach a point in their life where they do not see what could possibly lie ahead of them. For example, one of my aunts reached a breaking point some years back and never fully recovered. After she and her boyfriend broke up, she admitted herself to a mental hospital, but nothing much changed. She was still unfit to continue her job and shut herself off from the world. My family tried to help where they could to the best of their abilities, without much success. The first real change any of my family saw was when she met her current boyfriend. She is not completely back to the way she was before, but no one can blame her for having to take time to sort out her mental state first before making any other changes.

The second part of the quote, “but some of us are looking at the stars,” means that some people still find hope in a situation that seems hopeless at first. They can see the stars, and therefore have a different perspective on their situation. Not everyone can see things from that perspective, and I would argue that the majority of people do not. Some need help from others to see things form another perspective. Not everyone is an optimist that can see the light in dark times, to have hope when everyone else has lost theirs.

To be at one’s lowest point and still have the hope that things will get better takes a lot of strength. I have never experienced a situation like this so I can only assume what it would take to turn a seemingly hopeless situation around. Going back to my previous example of my aunt, she does not have that strength on her own, but thanks to my family and the other people around her she is finding the strength within herself. Not everyone is strong enough on their own; some people need the help of others to discover their own worth and strength. This does not mean that they do not have the same worth, it simply means that they do not feel like they have the same worth as everyone around them. They need to be reminded of their own value and that there are people out there that need them as much as they need those other people.

“We are all in the gutters, but some of us are looking at the stars.” A message about accepting one’s current position in life in order to turn it around. Not everyone has the strength to make big changes on their own and they do not have to. No one can clean a gutter all alone, they need help if they want to get rid of all the rubbish. Mental issues are the same, people can try to figure things out on their own, but they are unlikely to heal without the help of others. Everyone needs the support that other people can provide.

In conclusion, whenever somebody reaches their lowest point they might not have the strength and feeling of self-worth to turn their situation around on their own. Most people need the help of others to get back up and see the stars again. It was the case for my aunt and surely many others as well. Anyone can be the one to help someone else back up, maybe without even realizing that they are helping. No one should have to go through life all alone and face difficult times without any help.