Metaphorical Marrow!

Could we be living metaphors? Try being a little teapot!

Could we be living metaphors? Try being a little teapot!

Wild Poplars’ second metaphorical corner-stone is metaphor itself. Metaphors are the marrow of a writer’s bones.

But when I heard a spiritual guru go one step further and say, ‘we are living metaphors’ I didn’t get it. I do now, decades later, thanks to ‘a little teapot’!

Consider how we come to know some thing. It’s the culmination or processing of a particular mix of sensations which thought forms into an object. And to know it, in a some sense, is also to ‘be it’.

Here’s an interactive test! Don’t believe me? Try this out and chant out loud what follows WITH THE ACTIONS unless you’re on the tube. Oh, dang it, I can’t resist daring you to do this on the tube or train too! Please share your daring with us in the comments below, but don’t blame me if you get arrested…

Ready? Stand up and prepare to make one arm into a handle and the other into a spout and chant:

I’m a little teapot, short and stout
Here’s my handle, here’s my spout.
When the kettle’s boiling, hear me shout.
Tip me up and pour me out.’

With effortless grace and a little rhyme a miracle occurs. If we’re young at heart, we actually feel we ARE a little teapot. For a few brief moments we do have a china spout. Hmm… so we’ve experienced what it is to be a teapot.

But there’s hidden genius in this verse. What do we become by the end of it? Read it again if you answered ‘teapot’! By the fourth line we become tea itself… we are transformed from being a little teapot to the golden liquid which shouts, ‘tip me up and pour me out!’

It may sound daft to suppose that life is the richer for this exercise. But over the years, various clients, my mum, a friend on the brink of cracking up and perhaps even you felt… DIFFERENT. Didn’t standing all ‘short and stout’ make you feel more solid and grounded in the earth? Did you sense a sweet but determined feeling in your belly that made you feel OK to be right who you are, where you are, exactly as you are?

Now enjoy being an ice cream cone, or flotsam riding a calm sea…

The poets and writers I most admire are the ones who know we’re living metaphors. They regularly entertain the possibility that consciousness has fuzzy edges: that we are the world and the world is us. Indeed, the Old French, Latin and Greek roots of metaphor mean ‘to transfer or carry over’. Their words have us ‘being’ the thing. We morph into being ‘it’ because their imagery is so rich (and almost always steeped in nature.) I have a particular fondness for: Rumi, Lao Tzu, Guest Poet Daniel Skach-Mills, David Whyte, Benjamin Zephaniah and Christina Rosetti of ‘Earth stood cold as iron, water like a stone’ carol fame.

Far from turning us into ‘Homo Deus’ we disappear into ‘the other’ like a duck to water. Fortunately, in the main, metaphors have us alive and kicking rather than synthetic inert matter. However, we can neither ignore or deny the poetry which draws on the metaphors of mechanics and machinery. In their own way too, they are alive as they chug and splutter. Physics and natural law cannot be entirely removed from the beat they play…

Did I say beat? Oh yes, we’ve reached the third of the four corner-stones of Wild Poplars: rhythm.