A Spectrum of Metaphors


The metaphors that will be listed are only meant as a starting point to encourage positive self-reflection and change. Many other metaphors might be considered. In a book on Metaphor Making (2010) I describe forty different metaphors that could be applied within the context of aging. This is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of metaphoric possibilities.

What is important is that we all challenge ourselves to look along a series of metaphoric pathways and through this process discover new life and career themes. There is no single metaphor that can capture the complexity of the life/career journey, but taken together the images can lead to new insights, learning, and creativity.

Albert Einstein referred to this process of viewing life through different perspectives as combinatory play, a way of combining, or relating, unrelated items to solve problems, creating new ideas, and even reworking old ideas. When we rediscover this sense of playfulness and wonder we will be ready to move into the third age with renewed vision and conviction.

The metaphors that will be put forward are not meant to deny some of the challenges of aging. During this third phase there can be additional physical limitations and also other types of challenges (eg. caring for aging parents). While these challenges are limiting they are also only one part of a broader landscape.  The call here is to consider ways of more fully looking at life and life possibilities. Metaphors provide us with the lens to view an array of other options.


Amundson, N.E. (2010). Metaphor making: Your career, your life, your way. Richmond, B.C.: Ergon Communications.