One day you’ll be a metaphor

Milton Kamwendo Hunt for Greatness

The starting point of all change is to change the words that you use. Words create things. Words are the seeds of all greatness.

IT was on that unforgettable wintery day in the Ordinary Level English Language class that my teacher, Mrs Violet Lunga, taught us about the use of the metaphor in language.

She said a metaphor was a figure of speech in which an expression was used to refer to something that it did not literally denote in order to express a similarity.

She went on to say that a metaphor was a photograph that clothed or expressed a thought or meaning.

The use of metaphors spices up language and makes descriptions vivid. When a metaphor is used, meaning is given colour, language is brought to life and form is crystallised.

From that day on, I have always been fascinated by the power of word-pictures, or metaphors, and the way they are used in language and applied to the way people express themselves.

The eye of the mind is able to wrap its arms around the concept of greatness when you use metaphors.

Through positive picture words, greatness is crystallised in the mind, causing the flame of motivation to burn bright in the chambers of your soul.

The pictures you see determine the bee-line direction that you take. Meanings are clothed in the metaphors that you use.

To change your life, change the pictures that you focus on, and the metaphors that you use.

The starting point of all change is to change the words that you use. Words create things. Words are the seeds of all greatness.

Macbeth

Perhaps the grandmaster of the use of metaphor was William Shakespeare. He enveloped wise thoughts and ideas in metaphors that he generously sprinkled through his plays.

This has given his writings their enduring and quotable nature. In “Macbeth” Act 5, Scene 5 he gifts us with moving language clothed in metaphors when Macbeth exclaims:

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,/ Creeps in this petty pace from day to day/ To the last syllable of recorded time,/ And all our yesterdays have lighted fools/ The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/ And then is heard no more. It is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.”

In the play, Macbeth, the main character, get a witch’s prophecy that he would be king.

Your source will always determine your resource. Macbeth chooses to play to this vision and seeks to make it self-fulfilling.

The pictures you carry in your mind reflect what motivates your actions.

He and his wife then go on a murderous path in order to become that which they desire.

The end does not always justify the means. Greatness without the substance of values is short-lived glory.

Alas, unable to bear the horror of living with the heavy weight of guilt, Macbeth’s wife dies and the Messenger (a character in the play) breaks the news to Macbeth, who is also suffering under the same yoke of guilt as that borne by Judas Iscariot after his betrayal of Jesus the Christ.

In response, Macbeth utters the moving words above. These words are a compact motivational message that is worth marking.

We are trapped in tomorrows and seeking to position our lives for tomorrow. Never forget that tomorrow is made up of today.

Whatever you are doing today lays the foundation of what you will become tomorrow. What you are digging today determines what you will be carrying tomorrow.

Life is a moving train that will never stop. Some times change may seem slow, but life is still moving. You are not marooned and powerless. Never adopt the posture and mindset of a victim.

The things that worry and consume you so much may easily look foolish when you view them in the future in retrospect.

On the path to greatness, work your best, do your best, be your best, knowing that even this moment could just appear a light joke in the future.

Life is a marching train that creeps on until its last recorded moment. The real deal in this life is time and what you do with it when you still have it.

You can strut all you want and own all watches you can afford, but you can never own time.

Time does not respect anyone and it is the duty of all men to live the best in this moment and reflect wisely on the next.

Oh, tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow.

Never forget that today will pass away. The tomorrow that looks far will one day be so close, then closed and will pass on giving way to dusty death.

Your challenges of today will soon pass.

But time remains and will have the last words when your brief candle finally flickers away.

In the bigger scheme of things, even this moment will be a brief candle-light moment one day. Your fame and importance of today is never a permanent fixture, but a variable of interpretations of history and narratives of those on stage.

Does that mean you should be careless since life is so short?

On the contrary, it means you should be responsible and strategic, knowing that the true judges of your life are the unborn generations. To them, we must all give account without defence or elaborate explanations.

It is irresponsible to burden unborn generations with weights that are too heavy even for us to lift. It is irresponsible to consign to posterity enigmas that are too difficult to untangle.

Macbeth delivers perhaps the most moving punchline of his messsage:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/ And then is heard no more. It is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.”

Life is indeed a walking shadow, never constant, always moving.

A shadow depends on the way the light has been set. The length of the shadow does not depend on the size of the object, but the positioning of the light and presence of other objects.

I find this moving and humbling.

Never in life must you over-estimate your status and importance in whatever role you have the grace to adopt. Where you are is not reality but just a moving shadow. You are never the chairs that you sit on.

Each moment you live is just a nod of God’s grace.

Whatever its length or form, it is just a moving shadow – an ever-humbling thought.

Never be caught up in the deception and play of shadows. Most news you hear are just shadow boxing. A long shadow today could be very short tomorrow. It all depends on the light and where you are positioned.

Play your part humbly and diligently, never forgetting that it is a dew-like shadow moment, passing very fast. You have your moment on stage.

At times what you carry and worry about is a little passing moment. This grounds my heart in reality and prayerful contemplation. It makes me think big and have courage for the future, knowing that size is never absolute but a matter of interpretation.

Each player has their little moment when their shadow plays on the audience.

Never treat this as a local brew and get drunk on your self-importance. Carry whatever you are facing with grace, knowing that things are not what they will always be. The people that seem important today will not be important forever. Whatever is stopping you today will not stand on your path forever. Be gracious, but never a coward.

Esther

It is eleven years today since my wife, Esther, tragically died on March 9, 2006. It was indeed a challenging moment for me and my family.

I did not know how I would look after my little children and what life was going to be. The future seemed to suddenly go blank.

Esther was a great person, a loving wife and a beautiful rose, and we had many happy and memorable moments.

Alas, she had to exit the stage much earlier, just after 34 years of living and nine years of marriage. I do remember her fondly and thank God for her life and the opportunity I had to share that life.

It is not the number of years that matters most, but the amount of life that is in the years that matters ultimately.

Perhaps you too are passing at this moment through bereavement, loss or sudden change of circumstance.

Take heart, there are many things that you will not understand at this moment except that live your best at this moment.

Let your candle burn as bright as it can. Hold it sturdy with the grace that God gives you.

Live this moment as though it is your last. For, indeed, this moment will also pass as the train of time keeps marching forward.

The significance of life is in living this moment in a significant way.

May the generations unborn salute your day and your time on stage and be able to say you lived worthily and your shadow is worth imitating.

You will one day be used as metaphor.

What will your life and times represent, and what thoughts will it inspire? What meanings will your life stand for when used as a descriptor?

Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author and coach. He is a cutting strategy, innovation, team-building and leadership facilitator. Feedback: [email protected], Twitter: @MiltonKamwendo, and WhatsApp +263772422634

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