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