Son: You know about icebergs, dad?
Father: Do I? I saw an iceberg once. They were
hauling it down to Texas for drinking water.
They didn’t count on there being an elephant
frozen inside. The wooly kind. A mammoth.
— Excerpt from Big Fish
I commented to a friend that I only own two movies in my movie library: Big Fish (a 2003 father and son drama by Tim Burton, starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, and Jessica Lange) and the 1962 version of The Miracle Worker (about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke).
And I really never stopped to consider how much those two particular movies shape my thinking as a coach. My comments today will be about Big Fish, and tomorrow they will be about The Miracle Worker.
“Every human has four endowments self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.” — Stephen Covey
This quotation by Stephen Covey highlights the four endowments that constitute our “human” heritage. Each root image is associated with one endowment. As Covey makes clear, all four endowments are necessary to realize freedom and to enable us to “choose, respond, and change.” So how might the root images be useful in helping us appreciate the four endowments?
First, let me provide the necessary associations.
“We cannot change our memories, but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us” — David Seamands
I want to review an important idea covered in my last four blog posts. But I fear any review complicates very issue I want to bring up. Memory’s ability to ‘call-up and select’ is very different from the imagination’s ability to ‘hold and contain.’
Let me get at this idea using a couple of jokes:
- What’s the difference between a lawyer and an angry rhinoceros? — The lawyer charges more.
- What’s the difference between a washing machine and a violist? — Vibrato.
- What is the difference between a Harley and a Hoover? — The position of the dirt bag.
OK… the last one was out of line, I apologize to the vacuum cleaner.
From their very origin, the imagination colors the paintings it will want to see again. – Gaston Bachelard
So I’m sure someone is asking him/herself, “So what? We remember experiences more easily and vividly when they seem unique – why is that important?”
The reason vivid images are important is the way they come to contain us. Like I said in my last blog: It’s a two-for-one event. But the part that really stays with us (no pun intended) is the part that is all about us. To make this point clearer, let’s look at the distinction between memory (as fact) and reverie (as imagination).
I’m going to take a break from my series of clarifiers for a while. I want to go back to an idea I introduced earlier: Metonymy (ma-tôn-O-me).
Here’s a link to the original blog post: …when part becomes the whole…
So, why revisit an arcane term from poetry about an obscure figure of speech? What does this have to do with coaching, or more broadly with “getting along with people”?
I’m interested in metonymy because it illustrates the pattern of thinking which applies to images; the way we move from image to word and back.
“Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down.” — David McNally
In the realm of life lessons, we all have experiences where something was asked of us and we find ourselves either open or resistant to doing it. Sometimes we run headlong, eager to take up the challenge. Other times we dig in our heals and resist for no particular reason.
Posted in Clarification Dilemmas, Imagery, Investigative, Leadership, Life Balance, Life Lesson, Myths & Mythology, Personal Mastery, Perspective Taking, Powerful Questions
Tagged Root Image, Wikipedia
“A-ton-of-me / On-a-me / Makes for / Metonymy” First stanza of the poem Metonymy by the Creative Leap Coach
I have always enjoyed poetry. I love the crazy way it mashes up things against one another. But that’s not really what makes poetry important. It’s how poetry offers us different representations for our experience. That’s what makes poetry important.
The idea behind “metonymy” is letting the part stand-in for the whole. I can refer to “all writers” by referencing “the power of the almighty pen.” The pen is stand-in for the whole. But really a better definition would be “the Unique” which becomes “the One.” It’s not just any part of the whole, it is most unique part and it’s not just the whole it is the one, the singular, the whole which cannot be compared to anything else.