Metaphors are helpful until they’re not.

I’ve previously written about the limitations of the chrysalis metaphor to help us understand human transformations. Unlike a caterpillar, that fully dissolves into goo before emerging as a wholly new creature, people navigating change tend to bring parts of their past identities with them even as they add new elements in new seasons.

 So I’ve been searching for other transformation metaphors that capture the idea of both continuity and change, and I wonder if grafting is a strong possibility.

I am no farmer or gardener. Plants usually die in my care. I am writing about something about which I know very little — but I am excited to learn more about grafting through hands-on practice during our first winter session of Four Seasons of Transformation on March 25! Thankfully, metaphors don’t require detailed technical knowledge to work. What I do know is that grafting involves joining a healthy rootstock from one plant to a younger twig of another plant. Once healing and growth occur, a new, more adaptable plant emerges.  

The applications to our lives don’t require too big a stretch:

  • What might those strong roots be that need to keep you anchored and mindful of your past?
  • What new things are being added to the mix?
  • How might your new whole be greater than the sum of its parts?
  • What do healing and growth require in the meantime?

I’m enjoying letting this metaphor tumble around in my subconscious in advance of our time at the farm next week. At the time of writing, there are four spots left for that day if you would like to join us — we’ve now made daily tickets available for those who can’t attend the full program.

I’m also diving into Cal Newport’s new book Slow Productivity in advance of our last Wiser by Choice book club session for this season, which will be on the theme of Journeying. His assertion of “working at a natural pace” is resonating deeply for me, even as I struggle to embody it. Join us for that conversation if you’re interested in finding out more.

I’ll let you know how the grafting goes!

Photos courtesy of Heartwood Farm & Cidery.

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