I just had to respond to Chris’s essay about seeing his cancer through a garden metaphor rather than a machine metaphor. I love his sense of focusing on the good things he wants to grow, and seeing the cancer not as a failing of the system but rather a pesky and persistent weed. It is there, but not the only thing to pay attention to in the garden. Not even the most interesting thing to pay attention to in the garden. I love this, in that it does not ignore the cancer/weed, but instead focuses on what else is there that wants cultivating. I have long used this garden metaphor in my own thinking, primarily in the sense of trying to thin out thinking or habits or whatever that is not serving me well any longer. I love the extension of this in my own thinking that Chris offers in this. It also speaks to how powerful metaphors can be in, revealing underlying thoughts and assumptions that we may not have even realized we have. I used metaphors with patients just a little bit, but I’d like to explore more about how they can be useful in helping people uncover these, particularly around their illnesses. I’m thankful to have read this essay!
I agree Paul. I believe exploring metaphors with our patients has the potential to reframe thinking or to help them see how they are thinking. They can act as windows to help them make sense of things. I look forward to using metaphors more with folks.
We are made for story and I believe that this understanding of relationship to others and to the world around us, such as a garden, is one way to take what we already understand and to make it our own understanding.