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Metaphors + Confidence


Image of waves crashing on lighthouse. Photo by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash

One of my favorite songs at the moment is titled “Go” and is written by Glen Phillips of the band Toad the Wet Sprocket. In a podcast interview, he mentions lighthouses “being this thing that says, I love you. Go away. I love you. Come away. The lighthouse says, You don’t want to be here. Trust me. Go the other way.”

In the book Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds, Sullivan and Rees (2008) note that, “Metaphor is fundamental to the process of thinking. Whenever we compare one thing to another, whether we are aware of doing so or not, we are thinking in metaphor. When we describe one thing in terms of another, we are speaking in metaphor. Metaphoric thought and metaphoric language go hand in hand.”

By using metaphoric thought and language, we are able to express ourselves with a feeling of confidence. The result is the establishment of an instantaneous connection with another human being. In Metaphors We Live By, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) offer a few examples:

Look how far we’ve come. We’re at a crossroads. We’ll just have to go our separate ways. We can’t turn back now. I don’t think this relationship is going anywhere. Where are we? We’re stuck. It’s been a long, bumpy road. Our marriage is on the rocks. This relationship is floundering.

In the song “Go” Phillips compares the lighthouse to a complex relationship. Saying good-bye or being said good-bye to is painful and there is no shelter from the crashing waves of emotion. Every time there is stability on the horizon, you realize that nothing is stable.

Here’s an excerpt from the song:

“For all the restless hours and empty afternoons For all the faded flowers of dreams we spoke too soon Well you, you know which way to go But there's no harbor here There's only danger near Cliffs above and rocks below And though I want you close This light can only glow To warn you far away from shore Saying I love you, now go.”

With gratitude, —Joy

WORKS CITED: Sullivan, Wendy and Judy Rees. 2008. Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds. Bethel, Connecticut: Crown House Publishing Limited.

Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

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