Reaching for the stars is A Good Thing, they say, and I’m sure they’re right. They are, after all, the ultimate fount of society’s wisdom and sticking blu tack in their spout holes would childish, petty and destabilising.
Furthermore, they’ve come up with enough second halves to this axiom to give it unassailable credibility: …if you miss a star, grab a handful of clouds; …at least you’ll be in the sky; …you won’t be left with a handful of mud.
But there’s another side to this that’s always appealed to me – which may be indicative of the innate contrariness tethered to a spike in my mental basement since my Year 7 algebra teacher wrote in my report Helen must learn not to ask abstruse questions in class. (Poor woman. What a brat I must have been!) Or it may appeal to me because I’m pretty sure the stars are way beyond my reach and I’d look a right fool falling flat on my face. I never said I was brave.
Anyway, what the alternative perspective says is this:
Life’s wot yeh make it; an’ the bloke ‘oo tries
To grab the shinin’ stars frum out the skies
Goes crook on life, an’ calls the world a cheat,
An’ tramples on the daisies at ‘is feet.
from ‘Songs of a Sentimental Bloke’ by C J Dennis.
You’ve probably never heard of this, but it was one of my father’s favourites and thus part of my childhood. It was subsequently made into a musical that was wildly successful around Australia (I saw it at least three times) but was never staged elsewhere because no one else would have understood it.
There’s nothing sophisticated about daisies. Nothing glamorous. But they have their own stardom, and if you squash their little faces because you’re too obsessed with reaching for the stars to watch where you put your feet, you could well miss out both ways.