How Do You See Your Future?
Without language we would have remained animals. Without metaphors we would still be savages. E. O. Wilson
Metaphor combines thinking and feeling and creates a readiness for change. It detracts the left brain but doesn’t eliminate it. Why is metaphor so helpful in our thinking? It is easier to think about something while thinking about something else, than it is to think about a thing when trying to think about it. Erasmus G. Addle
You probably know I love metaphor because it has been a major part of my writing for years. Many years ago, during my decision making workshops I conducted an exercise, Four Future Metaphors, adapted from Draper Kaufmann’s 1976 book, Teaching The Future, as a way of looking at how you think about the future and how you get there.
Because I have never posted this metaphor activity, I decided to share it with you not knowing how interested you will be. Metaphors can generate creative ways of thinking. I suggest you use metaphor as a method for understanding your control of your thinking and believing and your influencing your future life.
Four Future Metaphors Read the four metaphors and decide which comes closest to your belief about your influence over the direction of the future. It may not be exactly right, but it is better than the others.
- Roller Coaster
The future is a great roller coaster. It twists ahead of us in the dark, although we can only see each part as we come to it. We can sometimes see around the bend but the future is fixed and determined. We are locked in our seats and nothing we may know or do will change the course that is laid out for us.
2. Mighty River
The future is a mighty river. The great force of history flows along, carrying us with it. Its course can be changed but only by natural disasters, like earthquakes and landslides, or by massive concerted human efforts on a similar scale. However, we are free as individuals to adapt to the course of history, either well or poorly. By looking ahead, we can avoid sandbars and whirlpools and pick the best path through any rapids.
3. Great Ocean
The future is a great ocean. There are many possible destinations, and many different paths to each destination. By taking advantage of the main currents of change, keeping a sharp lookout posted, and moving carefully in uncharted waters, a good navigator can get safely to the charted destination, barring a typhoon or other disaster that cannot be predicted or avoided.
- Colossal Dice Game
The future is entirely random, a colossal dice game. Every second things happen that could have happened another way to produce another future. Since everything is chance, all we can do is play the game, pray to the gods of fortune and enjoy what good luck comes our way.
Which metaphor most closely resembles your future vision? Why did you choose your preferred metaphor? What did you like or not like about your choice? What did you like or not like about the others? Discussing your answers with someone else, or better yet, with a group, can improve the illuminating process.
If your choice is not an accurate indication of your view of your influence over the future, what is? Create your own more accurate metaphor. Here are some examples of personal future metaphors. Mountain climbing; gardening, vacation, cooking, golf, software; dancing; salad; a banquet; computer; orchestra; cabaret; maze; chess game.
If you see this as a useful exercise to think about your future, I would enjoy reading your reaction. Please share your metaphor.