Next Monday we’ll be kicking off our next What I Learned From… groupwrite project. As promised, I’m announcing the topic today so those of you who are time-challenged can have more of that valuable commodity to write your entries.
Before I make the announcement, though, let’s start with a question: What, exactly, is a Metaphor?
Consider, if you will, the following statement:
A simile – or to be like something – is to retain some irresolvable difference which means one can never fully substitute for the other. On the other hand, a metaphor actually is a substitution – it is an equation in principle.
So for you wordsmiths out there, here’s what I’m talking about:
The statement, “Living in Texas is like I’d died and gone to heaven,” is what’cha call a simile (not to mention an example of your typical Texas Tourism Board ad copy). While it is no doubt certain that heaven is most definately a better place than, well, pretty much anywhere, according to this statement, in certain ways living in Texas is similar to living in heaven.
(Now, rather than regaling you with a list of the wondrous virtues, or bursting into song or anything, why don’t we just go with the fact that I’m biased – and let’s move on, shall we?)
This next statement, “Living in Texas is heaven,” though, is a metaphor. Notice the difference? Although not necessarily an exact substitution, the expression “living in Texas” is still roughly equivalent in principle to living in heaven, if you get my drift.
Generally speaking, when you see the word “like” or “as”, it’s usually a simile. A metaphor generally uses the word “is”. Got it?
Now, here’s where I announce this month’s topic:
Metaphors for Life
So what do I mean by Metaphors for Life? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. All you have to do is just answer the question, What is life, to you?
Believe me when I say there is no shortage of life-metaphors out there! Want some examples?
When I searched Flikr for the phrase “life is a”, I found that life is, among other things, a: cabaret, a puzzle, a circus, a highway, a laugh, a beach, a suite, a carnival, a pleasant journey, a tree, a silly game, a beautiful monster, a bowl of lychee, a blur, a poem, a great big canvas, a mix, a struggle, and a dance. And that’s only from the first few pages of search results! Phew!
One thing to remember about life-metaphors; we all use ‘em because they help us understand and cope with life, you know? And, sometimes we have more than one in mind – depending on the day of the week, our time of life, or whether or not our bank account is in the black or not.
Do you find yourself running hard, but getting nowhere fast? Then life must be a treadmill. Or maybe it’s an icy surface. Could it be a slippery slope? Hey, you get the idea.
So for this month’s challenge you’ll (figuratively) finish the statement:
Life is a _(fill in the blank)_.
Go ahead and fill in the blank with anything your little pea-pickin’ heart desires, my friends. Then tell us why you chose that particular metaphor and what you learned from it. (By the way, you don’t have to stick to this exact form – feel free to present your thoughts any way you like.)
So get ready, folks – we officially kick off the next groupwrite project on Monday, August 4th!
Image credits: Life is a Bowl Full of Cherries, by nicole
“Metaphors for Life” montage created from Spell with Flikr, a truly nifty little gizmo created by Erik Kastner