By far the greatest thing is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others. It is a sign of genius, for a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of similarity among dissimilars. – Aristotle
_____ is like life.
You can literally fill in the blank with anything. I have a theory that it is because of the fractal nature of the universe. Maybe it’s just that we can create stories and connections out of nothing (which is almost like creating a universe out of nothing, which is kind of divine).
Either way, we need metaphors.
My dad the other day was comparing windsurfing to life. When you map the initial pull of the mast, finding your balance, working with the wind, the wind changing direction, making a tac (turn) when you need to, and falling in (but getting back up!) to different scenarios in life you are able to rapidly live through trials that normally take years.
You can learn much more quickly if you are pulling lessons from everywhere for everywhere else.
So we create physical models of things we understand to attempt to understand those which we can’t.
“Life is like software, constantly needing to be updated.”
“Life is like a ship on a long voyage – sometimes the wind is going with you, sometimes it’s going against you, and sometimes it isn’t blowing at all.”
“Life is a marathon – not a sprint.”
OR “Life is a series of sprints.”
No metaphor is exactly correct because no metaphor is “Life is like life, it’s life.” But they help. They give us confidence and a sense of comprehending by injecting the known into the unknown.
The problem with this is that they introduce new barriers. If your Life is a Ship’s Journey then you’ve introduced a new set of rules. You’ll assume that each mast and shipmate has a story for your life (and it will, just as soon as you assign it one.
It’s not important for a metaphor to be right, just effective.
When using metaphors it’s important to look again and make sure they’re pushing you in a direction you like. Otherwise they deserve the trash, there are plenty of other stories to choose from.