My husband turns 60 years old today. He says it’s not a big deal birthday, but that it makes you realize that you don’t have that much longer to live. That’s not the usual happy birthday celebration thought, but it is a reminder to enjoy each day and every moment because life is short. Where did the time go? I just met this wonderful, gentle man…38 years ago!
B is an architect, an avid reader, and I would also have to call him a “philosopher” with great insight. He’s been reading a number of books recently that he has really enjoyed, and today he explained that the books and the birthday have come together in his mind in what he calls an “intersection” of ideas and life experience.
First, turning 60 definitely triggers a new look at oneself and one’s past experiences. Secondly, B has been reading a book called Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, and he found some of the ideas in the book quite intriguing. He’s not sure he agrees with everything in it, but it’s certainly causing him to think about experiences from a different angle.
Is it true that all of us, not just poets, speak in metaphors, whether we realize it or not? Is it perhaps even true that we live by metaphors? In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff, a linguist, and Mark Johnson, a philosopher, suggest that metaphors not only make our thoughts more vivid and interesting, but that they actually structure our perceptions and understanding. Thinking of marriage as a “contract agreement,” for example, leads to one set of expectations, while thinking of it as “team play,” “a negotiated agreement,” “Russian roulette,” “an indissoluble merger,” or “a religious sacrament” will carry different sets of expectations. When a government thinks of its enemies as “turkeys” or “clowns,” it does not take them as serious threats, but if they are “pawns” in the hands of the communists, they are taken seriously indeed. Metaphors We Live By has led many readers to a new recognition of how profoundly metaphors not only shape our view of life in the present but set up the expectations that determine what life will be for us in the future.
(from the introduction in The Conscious Reader)
B has also been reading a new book by an architect whose work he admires, Steven Holl, and discovered that not only do they share certain ideas/beliefs about architecture and creativity, but that Mr. Holl will also turn 60 in two weeks. Kindred spirits…
So we’ve had a lovely morning talking about this intersection of new ideas and old memories triggered by a birthday and two books, and together we took a different look at some of the incredible experiences we’ve shared in the last 38 years. What metaphors have we lived by?…and what new metaphors will we create to guide us through the later years of our life together? Just some thoughts…
B and I don’t read a lot of the same books, but we talk a lot about what we read, share ideas and passages that impress us, and process together through some of these powerful book encounters.