A Metaphor Calls A Thing Something It Isn’t
It is easier to think about something when thinking about something else, than it is to think about a thing when trying to think about it. Erasmus G. Addlepate
By now readers know that metaphor is one of my favorite things. I love metaphor and have employed it often. This blog is to sing its praises. Metaphors have been an important part of counseling and therapy for many years. I believe they are a useful useful practical method for gaining increased self understanding.
James Geary reports on linguistic research suggesting that people use metaphor every 10 to 25 words. Metaphors are at the very heart of how we think. Fiction and non-fiction authors use metaphor often. I believe sports writers win first prize. We are so used to metaphor we don’t stop to admire it. That is the purpose of this blog.
Why do I love metaphor? Let me count the ways:
- Metaphor always involves a sense of paradox and the absurd because it invites us to think in ways that are patently false. (“Life is a bowl of cherries”)
- Metaphor can generate ways of thinking that are novel and revealing.
- Metaphors are not directly logical, so it is hard to continue to think logically.
- Metaphor requires its users to find or create meaning.
- The role of metaphor is its ability to make us see and think irreverently.
Life is not a bowl of cherries; a bowl of cherries is a bowl of cherries. And life is not a journey. But to think “Life is a journey” is mind changing. It “causes” one to think of life differently. And it offers other creative metaphoric images: roads, freeways, detours, side-trips, adventure, traveling, excursion, driving, sightseeing, planning, etc. Whenever we alter the metaphors we live by, we change the world we are viewing. For example: Changing from seeing the universe as a giant machine or clock to seeing the universe as a living system. Changing one’s view of life from riding on a roller coaster to canoeing down a river changes one’s view of the world.
In my workshops (years ago) I asked people to share the metaphor of their life. I heard hundreds of personal metaphors, and to this day regret that I never recorded them. Do you have a metaphor of your life?
The greatest thing by far is to be master of metaphor. Albert Einstein