Metaphors are most powerful vehicles. As vessels go, they're rather like the Tardis. At first glance, they carry nothing more than shapes. If we engage our ganglion however, even for a moment, we let slip their limitless inference.
Here's a simple one for you;
Three symbols, D - o - g
There you have it. A picture of a canine in your head, perhaps an odour. The sound of a bark, even. Give yourself a moment to explore what 'Dog' means to you. Forget about my patronising didacticism for now.
The metaphor 'dog', should I let it, could set me off on a reverie, dull enough to put a nation to sleep. These three symbols have considerable significance to me, you see.
This ability to think and communicate metaphorically, makes us what we are. We define ourselves by them. Without them we'd be nothing. Non-human, if you like. I think of myself in these roles and attributes. All of which are metaphors;
Dad, husband, family-man;
Thoughtful, reflective, geek;
Musical, creative, introspective;
Existentialist, Nihilist, Aestheticist, Atheist;
Blogger, writer, bullshitter.
I think that we've become the very idea of ourselves. Living metaphors perhaps. This is the price we've paid for evolving consciousness. You see, it's both a blessing and a curse.
We've become separated from ourselves and no longer experience life with the immediacy of animals - eat, survive, procreate. It's almost as if we're third party observers of our own bodies.
Some are more sensitive to this phenomenon than others. There are some, I'd swear, that have no conception of it at all. Insensitive, selfish and superficial people, mostly.
Those that are aware of it, run the risk of becoming anxious (as they obsessively monitor their bodily functions), depressed (as they evaluate their metaphorical roles negatively), and/or Nihilist (as everything they observe seems absurd and ultimately pointless).
However, those that are aware of this dichotomy, can also harness their abilities to re-engage with life as it is. For me, one of the most effective ways of doing this is through the extended metaphor of art. By this I mean not only visual art, but stories, allegories and music.
These things help me experience my identity as less separate from the world. They help me understand and experience more fully, emotions such as love, happiness and contentment. They help me put to one side, for a while at least, the ever present angst and futility that is our ultimate reality.