I don’t know about you, but I have trouble with the distinctions between analogy, metaphor, and simile. And though I hate to kick off a post with disappointment, I’m really not writing about how to distinguish between them. Here’s an excellent Copyblogger post that might help sort you out.
Mr. Hopper’s ninth-grade English class is where I first remember learning about analogy, metaphor, and simile. I probably still have some handwritten sheets of my own amateurish examples from that class. Once I was formally introduced to these comparative forms, I obsessively “saw” them everywhere for a while. Everything was a metaphor for God, for teenage life, for meaninglessness, for depression, for relationships, etc. It was almost certainly very annoying to anyone around me.
Over time, I forgot about using the power of metaphor in my life. It came up now and then. I mean, you read “I am the vine, you are the branches,” and there it is. You sing “You are the Potter, I am the clay,” boom. Maybe it was attending a conference whose theme was essentially the analogy “your life is a story, you the narrator and protagonist” is what did the trick.
We are inundated by metaphor, analogy, simile, in television shows, in movies, in bedtime books, in poetry, perhaps nowhere more ubiquitously than in advertisements. Yet it’s easy to lose sight of what comparisons are being made, how those relationships, those parallels are being wielded, often to manipulate.
Rather than remaining inundated and blind, I’m reclaiming the sight and awareness this trinity has to offer as I live a better story. It’s exciting to see the parallels and relationships again, to gain new understanding, and to find new questions, too.
I spent too many moments treading water, keeping my head mostly above the surface, forgetting that I can move to the side of the pool and climb right out. Depression has, over and over, fooled me into making a rip-current-filled ocean out of a swimming pool. Dry land is within easy reach; it only feels like a million miles. The pool’s edge is a few pages, a few words, a few moments away. I’m so glad to be out of that water. Here’s to clearing out the lungs and breathing freely again.