I wonder if you have been comforted with the phrase “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining” as many times as I have been in this rather short life of mine. It is one of the few proverbs we learn as children that really stick on; we tend to carry it as we live, teach it to our children and refer to it when the need arises. It sounds so utterly simple but do you know what it’s all about? And ever wondered how it roughed out generations and generations to become the most trusted consolation of all time?
The Origin of the Silver Lining
It was John Milton, literary achiever and well remembered poet who coined the phrase ‘silver lining’ in Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634. It was too beautiful to be left unshared, so let’s peek into a couple of lines.
“I see ye visibly, and now believe
That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were
To keep my life and honour unassailed.
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.”
Do not fret, you do not have to be a literary scientist to decipher it! But there you go, that’s the origin of the phrase. These clouds are sometimes also referred to as ‘Milton’s Clouds’, which was most popular in the Victorian era.
The Connotation of Silver Lining
When the darkest of clouds slowly shift away to reveal the first few rays of sunlight, the dark cloud seems to glow and the ‘silver lining’ appears! It’s rare to witness but it sure is breathtaking. In our day-to-day lives, the dark cloud signifies any event or situation which puts us through a trying time, a dark phase in our lives where troubles and problems seem tough to overcome. As opposed to this gloom, the silver lining is that ray of hope signifying the positive connotation of a dark event in our lives. It is hard to accept for radicals but the concept of this phrase is, something good will always comes from a trying time. This phrase is used to comfort and/or console one going through a tough time (and hey, it works!)
Positive Outcomes from Negative Situations
It’s not a socially researched verified formula but it is believed that no matter how difficult a situation you go through, there is always gold at the end of the rainbow i.e. something positive and life changing occurs, which does not justify the bad things but it just occurs. As we go through life, us, our families or our friends are greeted with varying situations in our lives. Sometimes, we hear our friend lost a well paying job. But soon after we get news of a better placement or them finding a job giving them higher job satisfaction. Sometimes, we hear our friend got into a course that was not of their choice. Then we hear they found their one true love- which would have been impossible otherwise. Sometimes, we experience failure on a large scale; may it be business or relationships. It feels like an endless struggle because of which we become emotionally drained, unable to fight through the waves of despair. In these situations we must remember, this struggle is not pointless.
Change Your Perspective
Give the phrase a deeper thought. As I did, I found a new angle to it. There’s consolation, there’s encouragement and there’s also hope in it. Hope is what have kept our civilization alive, don’t you think? Sincerely speaking, it’s not always true that good times must follow bad times. A positive attitude is not always redeemed out of a negative event. But this phrase goes beyond the basic. It is about changing your attitude towards the bad time altogether. It’s about being brave, holding on, fighting and overcoming a bad time; knowing and hoping that there is going to be a ‘silver lining’.