Ten Metaphors for Life from "Leaves of Gold"
Have you ever tried to summarize your view of life? Chances are that you may repeat a popular metaphor (such as life is a game, a journey, a dance, a battle) and that’s all right. The idea is not to be original but to be specific about what life means to you; and it is possible for several people to share the same view. Taking the time to figure it out will help you respond effectively to your circumstances.
For example, if you look at life as a game you may realize that losing one inning (in relationships, business, academic pursuits etc.) does not prevent you from winning another. You may see life as a ball game, a board game, an arcade game or other. Instead of throwing temper tantrums when you lose one session, you will nourish your body and spirit in preparation for the next. You will accept second chances, become more productive and more effective.
Following are ten metaphors for life. They are extracted from Leaves of Gold (1938 edition) which contains “maxims, phrases, anecdotes, passages, proverbs and essays from the best minds among men” as it states in the book’s foreword. Life is not one of its 32 sub-topics, but metaphors, opinions and suggestions about life are included throughout the book. These selected metaphors share the thoughts of wise authors, and can inspire your subscription to, or the creation of, one or more of your own.
Life is a cafeteria. There are no waiters to bring success to you. Help yourself. – Public Speakers Library
In life, as in chess, one’s own pawns blocks one’s way. A man’s very wealth, ease, leisure, children, books which should help him to win, more often checkmate him. – Charles Buxton ([1823-1871], English writer and member of Parliament)
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass, stains the white radiance of eternity. - Percy Bysshe Shelley ([1792-1822], English Romantic poet)
For Life is just an employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.
- Jessie B. Rittenhouse ([1869-1948], literary critic, poet)
Life would be a perpetual flea hunt if a man were obliged to run down all the innuendoes, inveracities, insinuations and misrepresentations which are uttered against him. - *Henry Ward Beecher ([1813-1887], clergyman and social reformer)
Life is like a beautiful and winding lane: on either side bright flowers, beautiful butterflies, and tempting fruits. . . But by degrees, as we advance, the trees grow bleak, the flowers and butterflies fail, the fruits disappear, and we find that we have arrived—to reach a desert waste. – George Augustus Henry Sala ([1828-1895], author and journalist)
Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule. - Samuel Butler ([1835-1902], English author)
Human life is much like road life. You stand on a hill, and look down . . . and another prodigious hill lifts itself upon the other side. . . You find the valley pleasant and inspiring. When you get across it, you meet only a slight ascent, and begin to wonder where the steep hill is which you saw . . . Step by step you find it to be a good traveling road. – *Henry Ward Beecher
Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best who makes the fewest mistakes . . . but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. – Frederick William Robertson ([1816-1853], British clergyman)
Life is a web, time is a shuttle, and man is a weaver. . . Of that web, two things are true: that which enters therein will reappear, and nothing will reappear which was not put therein. – J. H. Newman ([1801-1890], poet and theologian)
Do you have a personal metaphor for life?
Why Choose a Personal Metaphor for Life?
"There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person," states Anais Nin ([1903-1977] American writer).
- Choosing our personal metaphor boosts our sense of individuality.
- The Research Digest (October 21, 2015) adds that thinking in metaphors enables greater insight into our emotions.
- It helps us explain ourselves to others.
- Prior to explaining, it helps us understand ourselves as in the following example:
A teenage girl accepted the assignment to find her personal metaphor. She concluded that life for her was like an apple in a small basket, not in a large bin. She explained that at the grocery store, she had seen apples in a large bin selling "two or three" for a certain price; but that above them in a small basket, the price of the apples was "for each." She choose a metaphor that emphasized her individual worth. Consequently, her attitude and behavior changed drastically for the better.
Metaphors for life are effective in influencing both children and adults. Choose from one listed on this page, or create your own and add positive meaning to your life.
© 2018 Dora Weithers