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Perspective: Living the metaphor

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About a year ago I got a root canal. The procedure felt like getting a… getting a…

This is the problem with relying on metaphor. If philosopher George Lakoff is right, that we need comparison to properly convey feelings to the rest of the world, how do we describe experiences that already serve as common metaphors? A friend of mine, after her second booster, expressed ambivalence about the best way to remove her Band-Aid. I thought she should do it quickly, but I couldn’t think of any comparison to express it.

Another friend of mine just bought a bicycle off Marketplace, and he was concerned it had been too long since he last pedaled one and that he might not remember how. I felt confident his bike riding ability would come back easily but I was stumped on how to assure him.

This point was most egregiously driven home to me at school recently, when after teaching two classes I espied me-self in a mirror and found a bit of my breakfast scrambler stuck plain as day in the gray hairs of my beard. I had stood in front of young people and spoken to them about grammar with literal egg on my face. It turns out to feel surprisingly humiliating.

Oh, and about that root canal I had? It wasn’t so bad actually.

I’m Dan Libman, and this is my Perspective.

Dan Libman is an author, teacher, correspondent, and adventurous host of the WNIJ podcast Under Rocks.