Life As Metaphor

Thought I was on my way yesterday to meet a guy I haven’t seen in about thirty years.   A scamp texted that this likable fellow, who had been spotted recently, would be joining us for lunch.  As my life does not have the recognizable shape of most people’s I know, measured in a real-world career one can speak of, I thought of what I would say when he asked what I was up to.  I mused about this as I made the long trek by public transportation to a $40 snack with old friends.  

“I am living my life as metaphor,” I was planning to tell him.  He’d give me his patented puzzled look and I’d explain.

“For example, I founded a highly successful child-run public relations firm for the children of the doomed.”  

“Hell of a name for a P.R. firm,” he’d say.

“A metaphor,” I’d say.  

“From this you make a living, from the children of the damned?  Someone pays you for this?”

“Metaphorically,” I’d say.  “Of course, here in the literal world, everybody would know the first thing you need to have before even thinking about undertaking such a project is a funder — in addition to a name making no mention of the horrible fact that millions of American children, and billions worldwide, are in fact doomed, the children of the damned.  Some generous corporation or rich individual to pay people to do the work you have dreamed up for making the world a marginally more hopeful, playful place.”  

“From this you do not make a living,” he would say.  

“Again, metaphorically.  I’m alive, I’m making, I’m living.  Who’s to say my life dreaming in metaphors is any less rich than that of the billionaire who wakes early each day to go into combat for even more, and who once or twice a month sits on a board that decides whose big ideas will live and whose will die.  Which fledgling organization will wax rich and which will fall like the dry grass.”  

“Metaphorically speaking,” he would say.

“You were always a man who could grasp a metaphor,” I’d tell him.

“Metaphorically,” he’d say, with Talmudic precision.  “You got any more?”  

“One has a choice in life, I’ve discovered, between bitterness and happiness.  I choose to be happy, extremely and unremittingly fucking happy.  You got that, man?”  

“You are singing to the choir director, mein friend,” he would say, and I’d watch the famous Cheshire Cat smile spread across his gigantic, cherubic face like a metaphor for the Moshiach and the World to Come.


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