WHAT METAPHOR DEFINES YOUR LIFE?

metaphorThere is an intriguing book by James Geary, “1 is an other: The Secret Life of a Metaphor and how it Shapes the Way We See the World.” Life tends to create patterns that we ultimately hold to be truths, although they are indeed perceptions. StrategyOne, a marketing consultancy, polled nearly 1000 Americans and asked them, “Which one of the following do you think best describes your life?” Each individual was given several metaphors and asked to pick the answer to which they most identified. 51% chose the “life is a journey” metaphor; 11% felt that life was a battle; 8% said life was a novel; 6% said it was a race; and 4% said it was a carousel. The pollsters found few differences when the results were grouped by gender, religion or age. The only measurable disparity: those with annual incomes lower than $35,000 were three times more likely to describe life as a battle than those who earned more.

I’m certainly not going to pontificate on what your metaphor for life should be. I recall a great scene in the movie, “Parenthood.” Steve Martin is playing Gil Buckman, a stressed-out Midwest family man whose wife is pregnant with their fourth child. He frets over his complicated life when Grandma wanders into the room.

Grandma: “You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.”
Gil: “Oh?”
Grandma: “Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!”
Gil: “What a great story.”
Grandma: “I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”

So what metaphor defines your life?

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