We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.Oscar Wilde

You'd have to be nuts to want to stay in the gutter! Look to the stars, and then reach for them. Take action, and improve yourself. Visit the gutter less often, and stay for a shorter period of time. Get backup on your feet!

What does that mean?
Historically, the reference to being in the gutter usually refers to a drunk who is so drunk and unable to control their body that they literally, as well as figuratively, fall down, roll around, and end up in the lowest place available, the gutter. Being in the gutter was an expression of utter despair and hopelessness, of having gone down as low as one could possibly go.

In this case, the quote implies that we are all struggling in our own gutter of sorts, a place where we have nought but despair and hopelessness. The quote, however, differentiates between those who just lay there and bemoan their fate, and those who look up at the stars.

The quote implies that this second group is different, and not just lying there cursing fate. The implication of ‘looking at the stars’ is that they have goals, that the gutter is not their home, and that they have some hope of moving beyond their present circumstances.

Why is self improvement important?  
To me, there are two basic paths one can walk. One is towards being as self sufficient as possible, the other is relying on others to do things for you as much as possible. In all our lives, there will be times when we have no other choice besides doing for ourselves, and others when we must rely on others. To me, the difference is which we rely on, which we do the most often.

Those who lay in the gutter and curse their fate are waiting for someone or some outside force to change their lives. Those who are looking to the stars are trying to find a way to move beyond their problems and improve their situation and themselves.

It is my belief that we are better off both as individuals and as a society when we try to do our best for ourselves (and to better ourselves) as often as possible. We still need to be prepared to help others, and to accept help as well, as no one is an island, as much as we might want to think we are.

Where can I apply this in my life?
What are the sort of things that make you feel nothing but despair and hopelessness? Grab some paper and write a few of them down (and no fair saying making lists is one of them!). If you don’t feel you have anything that does that, you may not be trying hard enough.

The times I get the feeling of despair is when things go against me in a long string. Recently, I’ve been battling a series of computer problems, and at one point considered how much it would cost to dump a bunch of the balky equipment and start over again. I got over it, and eventually beat the equipment back into line.

The question to answer for each of the items on your list is “How do you get back to normal when you feel you’re stuck in the gutter?” Consider what stars you fix your gaze to that help inspire you to keep going, pushing past the obstacle, until you’re back on your feet again?

Take a moment and write down your thoughts on how you deal with each situation. Now select one of them and consider how you might make your life better by strengthening that which helps you. For me, it’s always about perseverance. I know if I keep at it long enough, things will change.

What will help you? What will keep you out of the gutter, or keep your stay there as short as possible? What is the star you focus on, and how can you make it stronger, more powerful, more effective? How can you improve yourself to take better advantage of this star?

What of your personality traits, your virtues, or your abilities can you strengthen to assist you in your moments of despair and hopelessness? What can you do to make those moments more rare, and less severe? How can you make these part of you, so it is a natural response?

We all have our moments of weakness, we all end up in a gutter from time to time. I would hope we each will take the initiative and work on getting out of there as quickly as possible, and trying to avoid going back there as best we can. And that we will seek help when we are having trouble on our own.

From: Twitter, @aQuoteToday
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/o/oscarwilde109715.html
Photo by Ivy Dawned

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9 Responses to We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

  1. city poet 17 April 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    Why all this obsession about “sef-improvement”? The human condition is terrible, and getting worse. So many tangents: gay Oscar/North Carolina, Crusades/Califate, etc.
    I think Oscar was simply suggesting that as all is probably dire around you, look up, look further than your immediate putrid environment and find something much bigger than all of us that you can marvel in. No equipment needed.

    • philosiblog 20 April 2016 at 3:18 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

      As for your question in the first paragraph, I believe we are either getting better or getting worse. I don’t think you can stay exactly the same, as everything around us is constantly changing. That is why I choose to work to get better, to improve myself. If you hold a different view, feel free to do as you will.

      As for your second paragraph, I’m not sure what you mean. In re-reading the post, I found the only ‘equipment’ I asked the reader to use was paper and a writing device to make a list, which (quite frankly) I doubt many actually did.

      As for the part about what you thought Oscar meant, I thought that was pretty much what I said in the final section of the post. Perhaps it didn’t translate well (the .fr in your e-mail implies your account, and presumably you, are in France)?

      Feel free to respond, I’m genuinely interested in what I can do to make things easier on my foreign language readers, as that accounts for about 1/3 of my daily viewers. Thanks.

  2. yogeswaran 29 September 2014 at 3:40 am #

    when you fall into a gutter face on ground you will not see stars.

    but if your face up that is you see the sky. when clouds are not there sure you will see stars.



    • philosiblog 1 October 2014 at 4:29 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to leave a comment.

      That is true enough, at least for those who fall forward. But others might fall backwards, or roll from the street or sidewalk into the gutter. Who knows which direction they are facing. 8)

      The important point is that the quote is a metaphor and not an accurate scientific description of events. What you state is quite true, but a little off the point.

      • Stuart 30 April 2015 at 8:49 pm #

        Oscar Wilde must have been a pretty switched kind of chap I bet he had a great sense of humour

      • philosiblog 8 May 2015 at 6:48 pm #

        Look him up, read some of what he wrote. Lots of interesting quotes are attributed to him. He may even have said a few of them. 8)

        He was a bright guy, and quite a social phenomenon.

  3. Johannes Olofsson 25 April 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Reblogged this on FILOSOFISK.


  1. Selina - 17 January 2016

    […] We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde […]

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    […] Salah satu quote dari Oscar Wilde yang diselipkan ke dalam buku ini yang saya tahu artinya tapi kurang mehamami maknanya adalah ini: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Rupanya, kurang lebih bermakna di saat orang-orang berada di posisi yang terpuruk, manusia punya pilihan apakah hanya akan meratapi nasib atau berusaha untuk bangkit (source). […]

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