Life Metaphor

What life metaphor am I living?  And is that right for me now or do I want to change it?

Recently the idea of life metaphor has emerged in various things I’m reading. When something pops a few times, it makes me want to explore it more!    My word of the year is SOAR and my vision board this year had images of things that move and soar – birds, butterflies, bikes, and boats.  But what is the underlying metaphor?

Years ago, a good friend and I both worked for the same boss. While we had similar skill sets and did similar jobs, we liked to be managed differently.   The metaphors I used with my boss were “I’m a Kite and she’s a Hawk”. To make a kite soar (achieve greatness in the job), you need to be gently connected all the time and give it slight, constant tugs. If you let it go, it crashes. If you tug too hard, it crashes. But if you give it the right amount of line and the right tugs, it can soar to amazing heights.   A hawk also soars to amazing heights. But a hawk needs to be let completely free to go about its task, and when it’s done, it will come back for praise. Both soar. Both achieve greatness. Luckily my boss got the metaphors and we both enjoyed our jobs (and achieved great things). I’m no longer a (soaring) kite, as there is nobody on the other end of my kite line these days, but what metaphor is my life currently about?  And how does soaring fit?


Let’s consider a few common life metaphors that could be reflective of this point of my life:

Life is a battlefield and everything is a competition with winners or losers. This is a common one while in the working part of life; I became used to “beating the competition” mindsets. I had a colleague who epitomized this metaphor so much that everything became a competition. Even the potluck lunches had to have a winning dish. I’m not extremely competitive; I like to be good at things, but not at the expense of some other person being bad at it. I was happy to leave behind the battlefield.

Life is an adventure, full of travel and new discoveries. I see this in some friends who have one travel adventure after another, take one class after another, and are constantly planning the next thing. I admire them and sometimes have a twinge of envy. I did believe at one point that my retirement lifestyle would be more adventurous. But I have learned I love my home comforts and the familiar.

Life is a garden that needs to be planted and tended. You put in time and energy; you nurture and cultivate. The strong “should” of volunteering and being a grandparent in retirement epitomize this metaphor of giving to and growing others. I’ve pointed out a few times that I struggle with these elements.

I keep coming back to journey.  Life is a journey. It is an overused metaphor and it can feel cliché to think that this really is my life metaphor.   It is however a metaphor I’ve felt a connection to for years.   I adored references to life paths (Two roads diverged….) and various journey quotes (Not all who wander are lost). For years I had the following Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland quote on my desk:

“Would you tell me please which way I should go from here?” said Alice
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to” said the Cat.

The concept of soaring has a journey, forward movement aspect to it as well. And I’m feeling great about this word-of-the-year choice.

One of the A-to-Z bloggers I’m following on day “J” added Joy: Find Joy in the Journey. I recall hiking years back where we had to see the next cairn to find the path and then celebrating each time we spotted it before moving on.   That’s how I want my life to be now…happy at each next mini-milestone along the way.

As a goal-oriented person, my life now is learning to find the joy along the way; finding the support and connections along the way; keeping myself motivated and energized, physically and emotionally along the way; and celebrating the milestones along the way.

Yeah, my retirement life is a journey to become my authentic ME and I’m learning to activate things that move me down the path and savor the moments along the way.

What is your current life metaphor?


Picture Credit: Pixabay

23 thoughts on “Life Metaphor

  1. I typically don’t think of my life in metaphorical terms, but after reading your post, I gave it some thought. Nothing was really resonating with me, but I finally hit on it. My retirement life is like having an unlimited shopping spree in a “choose your own adventure” catalog! Ha ha.

    I get up every morning and feel like Mel Brooks in History of the World Part 1; “Ahhh, it’s GOOD to be king!!”

    If I want to get up late, I do. If I want smoked pork belly and eggs for lunch, by golly, that’s what I have. I have a broad and enticing array of activities to choose from each day. Sometimes the breadth of choice almost makes me giddy. I can play golf; I can work on a pet home improvement project; I can go to my shop and build something; I can read; I can play games; I can try out a new recipe or a new cooking technique; it’s dazzling. I keep adding to my list of someday/maybe activities too. I’ll never complete all of them.

    I am truly fortunate and grateful for this life and I look forward to what I’ll find when I flip the next page of my catalog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like the Life is an Adventure metaphor..and the adventure is not travel but one of your own choosing everyday. The Life is a Catalogue is fun way of looking at it, too. BTW – The archetype for this is called the Seeker/Explorer. The fun is in looking for the new, making discoveries, trying new possibilities, taking action…a very self-reliant, independent archetype. Very you. Now I’m getting an urge for smoked pork belly and eggs… oh dear.


    1. Linda – It’s so interesting you used that term…grounded. In my (first ever) Thai Yoga Massage, the therapist commented that I’m too grounded (based on how my meridians were blocked). I am trying to understand how to soar and find meaning in this part of my life. I will definitely be journalling on being grounded and soaring a bit more to better understand this. When words and concepts come at me multiple times, I always feel like the Universe is trying to tell me something I need to learn!


  2. Superb posting Pat. I love your kite and hawk metaphor and I agree that your boss was a keeper. I do believe it is rare to find a boss who is confident enough to nurture that kind of a leadership style. I believe my metaphor would favour the journey metaphor but it is also adventurous and finding joy in new things. This is my first year of retirement (officially), and my time is spent exploring all kinds of things including writing in various styles, pottery and different kinds of exercise. My calendar is full and I like it that way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Fran. I too am continuing to explore things (finishing up year 3 in retirement). Some are sticking (Zumba, yoga, journaling, writing) and some are just fun experiences (this month was glass-blowing!). I find that most days I wake up in a happier place than I did when working!


  3. I hadn’t thought of my life in terms of a metaphor. There is no doubt that my husband is all about the battleground. EVERYTHING is a race. EVERYTHING is a competition. He’s in sales. He’s an athlete. He is a walking cliché 😉

    … but I don’t know what mine would be. The “journey” kind of resonates with me. In a post a few years ago I described myself as a Seeker, constantly driven by my curiosity, with a big helping of fear-of-missing-out. Maybe that’s the best I can come up with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, It’s interesting when you see a person is just different that way. My “hawk” friend loved the comparison and found it helped us both not compare and find fault in the other’s approach to things.

      Your Seeker description has me thinking…Perhaps I am a seeker as well. A bit different that driven by curiosity though. Seekers are often on a journey of discovery. I’m thinking my seeking journey is to find my authentic self. For me, it’s not about missing out, but finding my own truth/my own life. See – you got me thinking! I’ll be digging into archetypes next… different types of Seekers.


      1. Ooooo – that sounds interesting!!
        I’m still not sure who my ‘authentic’ self is. When I first retired, I was deeply concerned that I STILL didn’t know what my passion was. I was constantly flitting from thing to thing like a bee with flowers.

        To save my sanity, I ultimately decided my authentic self was to seek, to test, to explore – and that was why I never seemed to land on one thing.

        I, for one, will be very interested in hearing about your research into Seekers.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Pat,
    As you can tell from my blog name, I’m all in with the journey metaphor. I know that some people scorn it and consider the term cliche, but the reason a word becomes a cliche in the first place is that it is so fitting and appropriate, it is used often.

    You are on a journey, Pat, and it’s a profound one 🙂 I’m grateful you invite the rest of us along.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, Of course you’re all in with the journey metaphor. Given that for a long part of my life, I’ve been about the destination, it took some soul-searching to acknowledge it was my life metaphor. I’m not sure I’d classify my journey as profound (that’s you and your endless quotes), but it’s certainly enjoyable right now!


      1. I have to disagree, Pat. Given how thoughtful and self-aware you are, I’m pretty sure your journey is profound. And besides, we’re twins. It’s simply beyond the pale to imagine that my journey would be profound and yours wouldn’t. No. I’m simply not having that!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Pat and thank you for mentioning my Joy of the Journey post. I actually nearly used K is for Kite would you believe? Yes, it might be a cliche but life is a journey full of wonderful twists and turns. I’m not sure what metaphor I would use for myself, so you have made me think! Looking forward to more of your journey!
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue, your Joy word really sealed the deal on the metaphor for me! So wild that you were thinking Kite for K…. how were you going to use it? And do let me know where you end up on Metaphor. Of course, I’m now delving into metaphor even more (the researcher in me) – have a couple of books. If I think they’re helpful after I’ve read them, I’ll let you know!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, Pat – Thank you once again for a very thought-provoking post. I like the metaphor that you have chosen. “Life is a Journey” strongly resonates with me. I believe is a great fit for this period of life. I look forward to reading more as your journey continues to unfold!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thinking many of my blogging buddies are also living the journey metaphor…or the adventure one. I would have pegged you more the adventure girl! Camino Trail, house sharing, weekend jaunt to Boston. Just saying.


  7. I love this, Pat. And I really like how you described you and your colleague’s working styles (and, you were very lucky to have a boss who could manage both ways).

    As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination” and, we could probably describe retirement the same way. I’m not sure what my own personal metaphor would be but I think yours is a good one. Overused or not (I have that Emerson quote printed on our retirement cards), it perfectly describes what I think is a healthy approach to life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janis, Yes, he was actually the best boss I ever had in my 30+ year career. It’s funny you noted that quote. Hubby has given me multiple things with that quote on it, including a bracelet – need to get that out and wear it again. I was a destination girl (still am in many ways), so he’s always been on me to slow down and enjoy the journey. It came up often on vacations… I was all about go-go-go and he’s like, let’s sit and enjoy the view! I’m the planner, he’s the more spontaneity guy. But I’m learning to enjoy the journey…even if it is cliche!


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