What If People (And Not ‘Things’) Are Actually Your Silver Lining?


Somali-British poet, Warsan Shire, who is one of my favorite contemporary writers, has a poem titled, “For Women Who Are Difficult To Love.” In it, she has some of the most earnest perspectives on what it’s like to be that kind of woman. My favorite line is the ending which I keep as a screensaver on my phone: You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, something not everyone knows how to love.”

Sometimes people notice my phone screensaver, and ask to read it. Whenever I hand it over, I wonder if it comes across like I’m advertising that I am all of those things –terrifying, strange, and beautiful. And then I wonder if this is true, does it give the impression that I’m some sort of masochist? Whenever I get follow-up questions about these words, oftentimes, asking whether they describe me, I respond with, “I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like they do.” That’s good enough for some people. But for people who want more, I go on to say, “Mostly, it’s a reminder to love terrifying and strange and beautiful people too.” At this point, if someone had misjudged me as a masochist, they might either find it profound or pretentious. In these times (perhaps, in all times) of seemingly greater connection and yet less sincerity, isn’t there a fine line between pretentiousness and profoundness anyway? Nevertheless, I digress.

In Shire’s poem, she also has a line that states, “You can’t make homes out of human beings…” The first time I read these words, I felt like someone had slapped me in the face. Not a harsh slap, but the kind of slap that wakes you up from a certain kind of slumber, and the world now seems to make more sense than it did before you fell asleep. I think about these words often, especially in the context of my personal view that one should love things, places, and people, without becoming attached to them. In fact, I would argue that attachment to things, places, and people, does not only come with a certain kind of immorality, it does not give you the space and the presence of mind to love and accept them for what they are. Mostly because you can’t see anything clearly when you’re attached to it.

But I fell in love with a song recently that has made me do some thinking or rethinking of these ideas. It’s by Jacob Banks, 24, who is a British singer-songwriter. The song is called, “Silver Lining” and do give it a listen. Because I have such a hard time picking my favorite lines from the songs, however, the following are the first and second verse, followed by the chorus:

[Verse 1]
I’m a wrecking ball at best
A big house with empty photographs
You are my only souvenir
You are my silver lining

[Verse 2]
 I’m that song that no one ever knows
A big load to deliver, no one’s home
You’re the reason I am never letting go
You are my silver lining
You are my silver lining

I’m a train about to crash
But you take me as I am
Through it all, I know the sun will rise again
You are my silver lining

Much like Shire, Banks gives us this idea that he experiences an awareness of being a difficult person – to be exact, “a wrecking ball at best.” And indeed they both give this perspective that one has to accept what they see and who they are; one has to be honest about it. Unlike Shire however, who doesn’t want to find a home in people, Banks is singing of a person who is his relief in the world – his silver lining.

Now I do not think that Banks and Shire are arguing about the same precise idea, so perhaps it is unfair to parallel their words against each other. But I do think that in comparing Shire’s words against Banks’ words, one can reconcile the feeling of being seemingly alone in the world, of feeling sometimes too demanding of the world, and of one’s self; feeling lonely, and sometimes entirely misunderstood – with the feeling that there are still people we can turn to who see us, and love us.

It’s part of our social conditioning to think of homes as places, but it’s also part of our romanticization of love, any kind of love, to think of homes as people too. Like Shire, I find myself weary of this notion. But like Banks, I think it is a beautiful perspective to think of our silver linings not as things that may come and go, and that are dependent on circumstance. And not as places that we may come and go from. But people – good, wonderful people; our people.

What does it mean when your silver lining is a person? It means, I think, that the love you share, whatever kind of love it is, is first of all, honest. Honest in the sense that who you are fundamentally, is not only accepted but cherished. It means that when you feel the world is cruel and unfair, you find solace in the knowledge that there is someone who will always meet you with compassion. It means that whether you feel lonely or lost or afraid or anxious, you know that you always have a shoulder to cry on, or simply a shoulder to rest your weary body. It means that even in those times or maybe especially in those times you feel like a difficult person in the world, which might be all the time, you know that you’re still loved; loved of course, by your silver lining(s). Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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