It is often said that every cloud has a silver lining. Have you wondered if the reverse is equally true? I thought about it and realized that the reverse proverb carries a lot more meaning:

“Every silver lining has a cloud.”

This applies to almost every situation in life, as good and bad things go hand in hand.

For example, I love good food, like many others. My all-time favorite is Chana Bhatura. It’s a wonderful dish with the flavors of the two main components balancing each other completely. It is a silver lining, a slice of heaven, to savor this perfect dish. The dark clouds gather an hour or so after the meal. The rich ingredients work their way through our digestive system, leaving a trail of destruction behind. For me, it is always the second Bhatura that creates trouble but, it is impossible for me to stop after the first one.

As another example, I look back to the wonderful time I had in Anchorage, Alaska, in my first job in North America. Anchorage is a resort town, and thousands of tourists go there every summer. It is surrounded by hills, lakes and rivers. There is a beautiful coastal trail with a view of snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance. During the summer months, it is paradise on earth, and I got to live there for free for four years, and even got paid for my time.

However, summer lasts only four or five months in Alaska and then the cold, hard winter sets in. This is the dark cloud that stays in place for the better part of the year. The first winter was fun for us, we had never seen a snowfall before. After a few weeks, we got tired of shoveling snow. We also got tired of the peak winter months with just four hours of sunlight every day. By the end of four years, we were screaming to get out of this winter prison.

Many Indians go abroad looking for the silver lining, in the form of more opportunities for growth. In most cases, they find the silver lining and make their lives very comfortable. However, everything good comes with a price tag. Families breakdown a little faster in the west, the guard rails of a watchful community are not there.

People are more isolated, immigrants always remain outsiders and this becomes a very dark cloud. Even worse, they  become outsiders in their country of birth, as they no longer live there. At least, that’s what happened to me. I am now a stranger in a strange land, whether I live in Canada or India.

For many people, marriage is a huge, big silver lining. It solves so many problems that wouldn’t exist if they were not married. In other words, the silver lining of marriage creates many dark clouds, especially for the ladies. Most of them have to leave their own home and move to a new home to live with strangers. They have to make most of the adjustments, the men have to do very little, except to be a sandwich filling in the middle of all disputes.

Marriage also creates children. It is a blessing to have children, to shower them with love. It’s a lot of fun to play with kids, they bring joy and laughter to the home.  However, we have to spend huge amounts to educate them and to train them so that they can move out of the house. As you can see, every silver lining has a big cloud attached to it.

It’s acceptable nowadays to have a live-in relationship and it might be fun for quite a while. However, there is no stability, and there is nothing to stop the couple from having other live-in relationships and to keep going round and round in a loop and, eventually, go round the bend.

The single life can be attractive for a while, but, eventually, human beings are happier with other people around them. There is absolutely nothing good in life without side effects; it’s the mix of the positive and the negative that makes life worth living.

At our age, my wife and I take a lot of prescription medication. It keeps our blood pressure under control, as well as all our other assorted ailments. However, every pill that we take has a side effect. Some pills give us a headache, some reduce our heartbeat while others lower our body temperature, some pills just put us in a bad mood.

There is no silver lining without a cloud.

Even silver linings like yoga have side effects. There is a bit of bodily discomfort associated with any yoga practice. As we get better with one pose, we have to increase the discomfort level to get the same benefit as before. It’s the same with physiotherapy – the person giving you the treatment will not stop until you experience more and more pain. This pain will do wonders for you, in the long run.

It seems the only way to live is to enjoy the silver linings as well as the clouds. Maybe, we just have to accept that both silver linings and clouds exist hand in hand. Life on earth simply would not be possible without the silver linings and the clouds.

As the proverb goes:

‘In every life, a little rain must fall.”

Or, as PG Wodehouse would say:

‘You cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs.’