Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Process Of Godlike Creation

"Those clouds are having a race."

"My tummy's full of happy bubbles."

"The thunder growled at me last night."

"I feel love flowing through my whole body."

Humans can hardly communicate, or even think for that matter, without the use of metaphor. It's how we construct our collective reality. Clouds don't actually race, happiness does not come in bubbles, thunder cannot growl, and there is no river of love, yet these things are, nevertheless, real. On one level, the creation of metaphor seems like an incredibly complex thing: the projection of the qualities of one domain onto another, creating an entirely new reality linking both domains. On another level, however, metaphor is a piece of cake, something that even the youngest humans can do.

One of the great joys of working with young children is to be present as they employ metaphor to construct knowledge and understanding. They delight us, not just with their joy, but with the sheer inventiveness, ease, and humor with which they create new meaning from this old, stale world, a place where we adults have long ago settled upon our metaphors. They surprise us out of our humdrum, showing us a new world that has, in a moment of childlike epiphany, come into existence. We take it as evidence of their genius, and it is, but it's more than that: it shows us that humans are, in fact, creators, all of us, and metaphor is a no less important building block than the atom.

There are many reasons for adults to practice listening in the presence of children. We think because we've lived more years that what we have to say is of more vital importance, that we can and should always be teaching. But much of what we do amounts to sucking oxygen from the room as we play an inadvertent demon to a process of godlike creation.

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