Metaphor

Life is a journey.

It will take me 13 hours to fly to California in a couple of weeks. This will be quite dull. If life was this kind of journey, it would be extremely boring and require lots of distractions to pass the time. Here, the destination is what matters.

My ideal journey to San Francisco would include a couple of days in Reykjavik, a ship to New York, a roadtrip to Chicago, then the train to the Pacific coast. It would be a wonderful adventure with many unexpected turns, good and bad. The process of getting there is as important as where I’m going.

I use these to illustrate the difference between metaphor and analogy. The first statement is a metaphor: using one thing to represent something else, and thereby bringing new and deeper meaning, shedding light on a surprising aspect, to the thing represented. Life isn’t literally a journey. You can spend a whole lifespan not going anywhere, but the concept of journey brings to mind the ups and downs of my fantasy journey to San Francisco.

But this scenario (wouldn’t it be great?!) is more of an analogy, really. In analogy, comparisons are made between different things, demonstrating similarities to aid understanding.

The analogy of the journey being more important than the destination is applicable in many areas. Artists and craftspeople may get more from the process than the finished product; I apply it to my business planning – I have a vague idea of what I want to ultimately achieve, but the means is as important as the end. Pay mind to how you do things.

And here is a simile: Life is like riding up the Tourmalet. It’s a long hard slog and the only reward at the end is to be able to say you’ve done it!

***

I can’t talk about metaphor without mentioning the phrase du jour, ‘to reach out’. Please don’t reach out to me, just contact me or say hello. I’m not the only one who hates this ubiquitous phrase, one that surely came into being thanks to social media platforms.

I used to not be able to think in metaphor. I wasn’t a good creative writer; didn’t have much imagination. Strangely, I now think in metaphors all the time (if you reach out to me, I’ll turn my back on you).

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