What is Your Metaphor for Life?

For more writings on this blogYesterday, I read the free sample of a book called The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, and holy fuck! Talk about a book I would NOT recommend!!! That was like an anarchist manifesto full of false promises in the blindest manifestation I’ve yet seen of faith! I read it from a mention by legendary swimmer Michael Phelps, on a pretty good episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast with him and Grant Hackett, given I have the intent to sample at least a book a week as a resolution in 2021 I’ve yet to post. Michael described it as a book he’d recommend, introduced to him by former football great Ray Lewis, who I knew was more passionate about his faith than his football. Yet, I like to learn about approaches to finding purpose in life enough that I thought I’d give it a try, even one with the Christian approach if it came via Ray Lewis and I am not religious… and am not planning to become religious any time soon. But before I get on with things, I should redeem Michael Phelps with the other book he recommended, which’s sample I also read, and have put on my “to read in the future” list. That was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson. Interesting, the two books were about the same thing, how to focus your life on the things that matter most. One was just things in a prison cell, the other was things in the rest of the world.

As much garbage as I thought there was in the sample for The Purpose Driven Life, I still got some useful things out of it. One is the idea for this blog post, along with the idea for at least another blog post, and a short story that could only be classified as being extremely blasphemous, but I’ll save that judgment for later. I didn’t doubt there were going to be some, if I had read more of it. I just violently objected to the framework into which it jailed everything!

In the segment called Day 5: Seeing Life from God’s View (of 40 days), the author asked for the reader’s metaphor/s for their life, via “How do you see your life?”  What is life to you, in general, as a setting, in other words? The rationale for asking is because depending on what your metaphor/s is or are for life, it would summarize well how you think your life works, how you approach it, your expectations, values, relationships, goals, and priorities, which I thought were all true and excellent points. There were lots of examples given, but before I share those for things to think about, if you cared to answer the question of what is or are your life metaphors, you should think about it unbiased by the examples, before reading on. If you didn’t, or once you have, you can read on to possibly change your answer if you found a better answer, since it might be hard to get things best answer the first time on something as big as life.


On with the show. The book gave examples of common life metaphors, usually from expressions like life is a circus, without following up on how a person who saw life as such approached life. You can probably take a guess and not end up too far off, though. Maybe the easy one to describe would be those who saw life as a minefield, living in fear of making a big mistake at every step, second guessing which step to take, never going in a direct line, etc. Or maybe they’d just run straight through it and hope they get lucky never to step on anything, or step on anything hard enough, to cause it to blow up big. Not super helpful, but fun to ponder.

Among other life metaphors generally given without extrapolation on life approaches, but which I’ll include some first impressions for me, included a:

  • Roller coaster – easy to picture with ups and downs, fast and slow, scary at times, some crazy turns, and so on.
  • Puzzle – things to be solved all the time, always looking out for clues, curiosity or frustration pending how they felt about puzzles, etc.
  • Symphony – lots of collaboration, playing together, under someone’s direction, though.
  • Journey – a long trek with all kinds of pleasures, challenges, surprises, expected and not, with new experiences everywhere, constant change, and so on.
  • Dance – some fun, some rejections, gotta go with the flow often like the music, but no set rules, among other things.
  • Carousel – this was expanded upon for up, down, round and round, sort of joy ride, which was what I’d have said as well.
  • A ten-speed bicycle with gears we never use – an interesting one, and one-speed life by the sounds of it, but that you have to work for everything you get.
  • Game of cards – also expanded upon to include play the hand you’re dealt with that’s a bit limiting, but to which I’ll add probably hope for some luck or that others don’t play their hands well to benefit you?
  • Clothes, jewelry, cars, hairstyles, bumper stickers, even tattoos – all of these are bit too shallow for me to comment here on what is essentially daily warm-up writing for me.
  • Party – expanded upon as valuing fun, to which I’d add a bit of carelessness as well.
  • Race – expanded upon as valuing speed and being in a hurry, to which I’d add some strategization because no serious racer will just go all out all the time with any real hope of winning it or the majority of races.
  • Marathon – expanded upon as valuing endurance, but with which I’ll counter that the marathon is a race, a special kind of race, but a race all the same to require the strategization, speed, gut checks at key points, and so on.
  • Battle or game – expanded upon as winning, to which I’ll add much like a race again, but with the mind more than the heart and body like with a race.

Finally, the book talks about how the Bible refers to life as a Test, a Trust, and a Temporary Assignment. The Test I could easily understand, though God’s test is another matter. The Trust was a bit pretentious, even of almighty God, as far as I was concerned. This must be the evangelical flavour, and I gave it my Disgust Face B immediately. And last but not least, the Temporary Assignment since eternity in Heaven or Hell is the ultimate objective. Great! I’ll skip the temporary assignment then, since it has no value, or shouldn’t have any for something so big to depend on so little. Puh-leeze…


My life metaphor/s

So, now to do my homework I had asked of you. What are my life metaphor/s?

Despite having been biased to have read all the metaphors I wrote about above, and had thought about to give all those impressions, none really matched well with my initial thought before reading them. That is, my life metaphor is an experiment, or a grand set of experiments with one or subsets for various purposes in time.

  • There is a LOT to life to explore, so be super curious to explore all you want to explore, including some “things” that may seem only you are curious about.
  • Experiment about many “things” as you can, even some “things” some people supposedly experimented and had discovered “everything” about it to tell the world.
  • Experiment with a purpose, because you should know what you’re trying to find out with an experiment.
  • Experiment with a plan for how it might turn out, including creative plans rather than traditional ones or even best practices, in some cases, rather than experiment recklessly.
  • Accept the facts the experiments tell you, or redo it to see if you had done it wrong or poorly the first time, but don’t deny the facts as a final conclusions if you don’t have anything factual to dispute it.
  • Know how to react and/or adjust if each experiment doesn’t turn out the way you think it will.
  • There are always limitations with experiments, and some control required.
  • Some things you’ll just have to experiment yourself to learn, and you’ll need to do some simple and/or small experiments rather than just read about it, to get experience and knowledge to be prepared for harder and/or bigger experiments.
  • Some experiments will fail, maybe even blow up, but hopefully, if you had planned well and had some experience, you’ll minimize these and/or the damage from them.
  • No experiment is off limits, even if some might be highly improbably to succeed, but you won’t fully know until you try.

In reflection, I can say I’ve had this view for a long time. Whether it had anything to do with the fact I studied chemistry heavily for four years in university, and was pretty deep into it for two years in high school, is debatable, though I can say chemistry wasn’t my first choice for study or profession, and it’s not surprising I didn’t stick with it after university. Those are other stories, though. I’ll just end with acknowledgement while my overriding life metaphor for life is an experiment, there are elements and portions where I view it as some other metaphor, like a race, a test, journey, etc. However, within those, there are always room to experiment. Try different tactics in the same race year after year, or even adjust part way. Prepping for tests can be different pending the test. Journeys are full of room to improvise, with an improvisation being another metaphor. That’s just kind of reckless experimentation, as far as I’m concerned, but life doesn’t always give you time or capacity to prepare. So all and all, I would say, the experiment metaphor will do just fine on its own if only one were needed for me.

What did you decide on for yours?



1664 words

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