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Kelly J. Cooper

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Grazing [Jan. 27th, 2007|01:00 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
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So what's your current metaphor for life? Or simile, if you prefer.

Mine changes all the time, but certain times in my life have been characterized by particular metaphors. For instance, while working at Genuity, I often likened life to pushing a giant boulder up a massive shit-covered hill.

My current metaphor came to me in the shower yesterday, while I was listening to my latest sampler CD from Paste Magazine (whom I love to pieces and recommend highly, by the by). Some guy was singing how "life is a rollercoaster" and I thought, "yes it is, but not the way you think."

Life IS a rollercoaster ride. But most of life is standing in line. How patient you are, how you treat the people in front of you and the people behind you, as well as that scuzzy looking couple who keep trying to cut in line, that's the measure of your life. The actual ride itself? That only happens on rare occasions. First kiss, first love, last love, illness, babies, weddings, funerals. Those are the rollercoaster moments, the ones you just have to ride out, whether they're screaming fun or nauseating.

Consider how you spend your time between rides.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-27 04:26 am (UTC)
Oh please. People use all sorts of adjectives, similes, metaphors, and strange verbiage to wrap their brains around the thing that is life. Sometimes it's just too big or too complicated or too painful for simple discussion.

Granted, the most literal minded among us probably don't do it often, but I believe it occurs regularly in most folks.

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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-27 05:09 am (UTC)
Not "wrong," just different.

Which gives you the unique position of being one of the only people I know who doesn't use metaphors or similes to describe life.

Congratulations!
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-27 06:43 pm (UTC)
Okey dokey. I never assumed everyone had a habit for coming up with metaphors/similes for life.

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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-27 11:41 pm (UTC)
I appreciate the effects of precision to achieve accuracy, and I strongly believe that if two or more people are going to have a complex discussion about a topic, they should define their terms. So, for instance, in order to discuss scholarship with regard to comics, there must be a rough consensus of what is meant by scholarship (definition of the word or standards for achievement) and what is encompassed by "comics." And while no absolute definition might be achieved, the people involved can define their terms prior to beginning the discussion. "This is what I mean when I refer to that" or "my discussion of comics includes comic books, webcomics, and comic strips."

However, sometimes being overly literal drains the poetry from a thing. When I don't want a specific definition or interpretation, like with dreams, poetry, essays that can be read at different levels, etc. then I'm not seeking precision, because my point is not accuracy, it's evocation. I want the reader to bring her emotions and baggage and perceptions to the piece and come away with something personal. She may not take away what I intended, or even hoped, but unless I've done a spectacularly bad job, that's not under my control.

For me, a metaphor for life is an evocation. I want to evoke from you empathy or sympathy or thoughtfulness, depending upon the metaphor of the moment. With the shit-hill metaphor, I wanted to express futility, frustration, and bad smells. But saying "my job is futile, frustrating, and smells bad" is telling, not showing, which is bad story telling. I wanted to create an image that would bring these things to mind without asking you to specifically think about them. I wanted that echo of Sisyphus without having to speak his name.
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[User Picture]From: whitebird
2007-01-27 04:49 am (UTC)
Life is like a box of chocolates. Sometimes, you get one that makes you get sick and die.

Okay, that's not really my actual metaphor for life, but I likes it anyways.

Not mine, but still somewhat nice, "Oh dear," said Pooh, "The Uzi's out of ammo."
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-27 05:13 am (UTC)
From The X-Files as spoken by the Smoking Man aka Cancer Man:
    Life... s'like a box of chocolates - cheap thoughtless perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for, unreturnable because all you get back is another box of chocolate. So you're stuck with this undefineable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down because there is nothing left to eat. Sure, once in a while there's a Peanut Butter Cup or an English Toffee but they're gone too fast and the taste is... fleeting. So ya end up with broken bits filled with hardened jelly and teeth shattering nuts, an' if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you've got left is a... is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers.


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[User Picture]From: whitebird
2007-01-27 03:56 pm (UTC)
It's a little long, but I like it.

I also realized that I mis-quoted earlier.

"Oh, bother," said Pooh, "The Uzi's out of ammo."

(It doesn't help that I don't know Pooh like most people I know appear to know Pooh. Never read, never saw, as far as I recall.)
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-27 06:44 pm (UTC)
I read Pooh as an adult, so it's still an amusing, albeit slightly disturbing line.
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[User Picture]From: waider
2007-01-27 07:07 am (UTC)
Ew. You were listening to Ronan Keating, or someone covering one of his songs. I'm not quite sure which is worse.

Life is something I'm planning on getting around to as soon as I finish doing whatever it is I'm doing now.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-28 04:58 am (UTC)
Um, Keller Williams, I think, and the song is called "Life."

It seemed irony-laden.

What's the quote? (Googles) Right.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
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[User Picture]From: waider
2007-01-28 08:04 pm (UTC)
My bad, I should've know the phrase would turn up in more than one song. It is, after all, a good metaphor.

The quote's actually my own, but does fit nicely with the one you cite, and which I was aware of, and which I was probably subconciously riffing off. I'm a firm believer in not planning unless absolutely necessary, however, and I think it's because life has a way of stomping on what you were planning on doing.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-29 03:50 am (UTC)
I believe the quote's yours, it just reminded me of the other one...

I'm a firm believer in not planning unless absolutely necessary

I used to overplan like a MANIAC but living with a couple of very spontaneous type guys who hate planning (as housemates, not as SOs) kind of broke me of that.

So now I made parts of plans - I make plans for beginnings and contingency plans for ends and sort of let the middle happen.

But I kind of feel like I should do more than that with the larger aspects of my life. But I dunno. Never been good with the long-term stuff.

Hmm. Ponder, ponder.
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[User Picture]From: aroraborealis
2007-01-27 10:01 am (UTC)
Right now, as in, in the last week or two, my metaphor is:

I'm walking through a room or building that has, until moments ago, been full of people and activity, and that will be again soon, but at the moment, is empty and peaceful and full of potential. Like the house the morning after a big, successful party, or the hallways of my HS before any students arrived...

This is an incredibly temporary metaphor, and it has me looking around wondering, "Wait, what's coming next?" But it's pretty interesting, even so.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-28 04:59 am (UTC)
I like it! Full of potential. Nice.
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From: moria923
2007-01-27 11:08 am (UTC)
Brilliant. No wonder you're a writer.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-28 04:59 am (UTC)
Well, thank you ma'am!
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[User Picture]From: tcb
2007-01-27 12:11 pm (UTC)
I got Paste magazine for a while via Radio Paradise, and found a lot of really good music through both. Still listen to RP, but let my Paste sub lapse.

I don't know as I have a life metaphor so much as I have a growing list of "life rules of thumb".

the latest appears to be, "never dive into a shallow pool". granted, in my case that's literal, but the more that I've thought about it, it feels like a good example of "be more aware/think things through" which are things I've been striving for in recent years.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-28 05:00 am (UTC)
"never dive into a shallow pool"

Seems like a good plan and a good rule.

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[User Picture]From: kimberlogic
2007-01-27 09:48 pm (UTC)
In the past two weeks, I've not had a clear metaphor but keep hearing the intro voice-over to The Twilight Zone ...

I do seem to cycle through various metaphors every season or three ... metaphor or lyric snippets. Much of 2005 was "under pressure" or "walk through the fire"

This was so well-written and a great blend of sharing, wisdom and thought-provoking - thanks, babe.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-28 05:02 am (UTC)
Yeah, the metaphor changes periodically.

And I like to think of the music as the soundtrack of the time period. Or my subconscious sending signals to my conscious mind. Usually those signals are lyrics in which the singer says "stop freaking out" in some pretty poesy fashion.

This was so well-written and a great blend of sharing, wisdom and thought-provoking - thanks, babe.

Hey, you're welcome! And thank you!
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[User Picture]From: hammercock
2007-01-28 02:39 am (UTC)
"Life is like a sewer -- what you get out of it depends on what you put into it." --Tom Lehrer

Funny, yes, but it also sums up my somewhat existentialist feelings on life.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-28 05:02 am (UTC)
Hmm. That has deeper implications with regard to what everyone else puts into it...
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2007-01-29 03:47 am (UTC)
Huh. That's really interesting and pretty elaborate. Have you had it for a long time? Does it change?
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