Live Your Sequence

Michelangelo's 'Awakening Slave.' photo from

Michelangelo’s ‘Awakening Slave.’ photo from

Metaphors abound and are all around us. Since all language is referential, all language is metaphor. Every experience we relate, every story we tell, every thought we think, is metaphoric. It is a pointer to something experienced, sensed, felt.

Just as letters are sequenced to make words, metaphor is sequenced to create story. It is in the naming and the stacking of metaphor that we make meaning of our lives.

Today, hanging out in the choir loft as Kerri played a service, I heard these metaphors that, linked together like cars on a train, make a universal story; if you are human you’ll live this sequence: Slavery. Wilderness. Promised Land. This is both the ancient story of a people and it is a story common to the human experience. The first, the ancient story is biblical. It’s big! It is the scaled up version of the personal, more human scale variation.

We hold ourselves captive. I’ve yet to meet anyone, myself included, that doesn’t place limits on their capabilities. Michelangelo sculpted a brilliant series of human figures trying to escape the marble from which they were created. Figures struggling to emerge, he called them the Prisoners. I think of the Prisoners every time someone tells me that “they can’t.”

Once we take the scary step out of captivity, once we say, “I can,” a necessary lost-ness ensues. “I can’t” is an orientation. Leaving it behind is akin to leaving the known world and striking out into the wilderness in search of a new orientation. “I can” requires a host of new experiences, a new trail blazed to the point of normalcy. Orienting to possibility is more than a choice; it is a practice.

The Promised Land is a place of mastery. It comes when we forget, for just a while, that we are on a journey. It comes when the painter forgets that they once did not know what happens when red meets green. It comes when the sculptor no longer needs to impress but can play with the stone and delight when the stone plays in return. It is comfortable and safe and known.

And, every Promised Land comes with a gift: one day it will become a prison, a place of captivity. And the cycle will begin anew. The struggle of “I can’t,” the scary step into the wilderness, and the arrival “home” with mastery, deeper knowledge, and new eyes.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

“As both an artist and an entrepreneur, who adores the works of The Artist’s Way, I am liking where this book is taking me.” Tom Ellis


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One Response

  1. Superb metaphor, especially as I’ve just handed in my resignation at the hospital! Ah, wilderness, yes. And perhaps the Promised Land in time. All is well.

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