I love metaphors. This is not the same as, “I love broccoli.” I do like broccoli and I believe that it is an especially good food, but my heart does not swell when I acquire it. A metaphor, on the other hand, can fill me with something akin to seeing one of my children drive past me as I ride my bike to school.
I have been searching for a way to make sensible a very slippery feeling that has plagued me for several years now, since the 2000 election. I have made money with various activities since that time, selling high-end art, photography, consulting and teaching. And yet, I have not been attached to any of these things. Before the election, for many years I did commercial photography, and while I had other significant interests, it was easy to focus real attention there. After, I have been drawn toward the far horizon, always feeling the need to keep a weather-eye out. Here is my metaphor:
I am walking with a group of people in the wild lands over rough and mixed terrain. I don’t have a good sense of what direction to go in to get back to something; say, back to my car. The others don’t seem to notice that they don’t know where they are going. I realize that getting my bearings is a first priority, but the others are demanding that I repeatedly count the change in my pocket and do inventories of my daypack.
I try to explain to them: “Things have changed. We’ve been lost for too long. We’ve got to get back, got to pay attention to the distant horizon and find our way.”
And they say: “Count your change again. Check off on this form that you have these items.”
I try, but have no attention. I want to study the terrain, take compass readings, estimate where we are, figure a line of travel. No one is interested. It has been settled. The solution is to count your change.