My husband turns 60 years old today. He says it’s not a big deal birthday, but that it makes you realize that you don’t have that much longer to live. That’s not the usual happy birthday celebration thought, but it is a reminder to enjoy each day and every moment because life is short. Where did the time go? I just met this wonderful, gentle man…38 years ago!

B is an architect, an avid reader, and I would also have to call him a “philosopher” with great insight. He’s been reading a number of books recently that he has really enjoyed, and today he explained that the books and the birthday have come together in his mind in what he calls an “intersection” of ideas and life experience.

First, turning 60 definitely triggers a new look at oneself and one’s past experiences. Secondly, B has been reading a book called Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, and he found some of the ideas in the book quite intriguing. He’s not sure he agrees with everything in it, but it’s certainly causing him to think about experiences from a different angle.

Is it true that all of us, not just poets, speak in metaphors, whether we realize it or not? Is it perhaps even true that we live by metaphors? In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff, a linguist, and Mark Johnson, a philosopher, suggest that metaphors not only make our thoughts more vivid and interesting, but that they actually structure our perceptions and understanding. Thinking of marriage as a “contract agreement,” for example, leads to one set of expectations, while thinking of it as “team play,” “a negotiated agreement,” “Russian roulette,” “an indissoluble merger,” or “a religious sacrament” will carry different sets of expectations. When a government thinks of its enemies as “turkeys” or “clowns,” it does not take them as serious threats, but if they are “pawns” in the hands of the communists, they are taken seriously indeed. Metaphors We Live By has led many readers to a new recognition of how profoundly metaphors not only shape our view of life in the present but set up the expectations that determine what life will be for us in the future.
(from the introduction in The Conscious Reader)

B has also been reading a new book by an architect whose work he admires, Steven Holl, and discovered that not only do they share certain ideas/beliefs about architecture and creativity, but that Mr. Holl will also turn 60 in two weeks. Kindred spirits…

So we’ve had a lovely morning talking about this intersection of new ideas and old memories triggered by a birthday and two books, and together we took a different look at some of the incredible experiences we’ve shared in the last 38 years. What metaphors have we lived by?…and what new metaphors will we create to guide us through the later years of our life together? Just some thoughts…

B and I don’t read a lot of the same books, but we talk a lot about what we read, share ideas and passages that impress us, and process together through some of these powerful book encounters.

Happy birthday, B!

Oh yes…just for the record…B also makes the best lemon meringue pie on earth, an absolutely delicious deep-dish apple pie, and the most sinful brownies you can imagine.

10 thoughts on “Intersections

  1. Kay

    A happy, happy birthday to B! I turned 50 this year and, yes, these milestones begin to make you realize that you probably don’t have as many years ahead of you as there are behind. Hence, the 50 page rule of books for me. I think that I will subtract a page for each birthday that comes so that when I turn 100 if the cover doesn’t grab me, it goes by the wayside.

    Seriously, I do wish you both many more happy years together and have a great day!


  2. Cath

    Happy Birthday, B!

    I’m in my fifties and yes, it does cross your mind quite often that you might not have that many years left. Especially as we’ve had a couple of family members die in their sixties recently. No good dwelling on it though as we could well have another 30 years. If we do, I wonder what kind of worldwide changes we’ll witness.


  3. Chris

    Happy Birthday, B!

    It’s so great that y’all have such a wonderful relationship. It’s sad, but it’s very rare that you hear of couples that can just sit down and talk about things like books and thoughts on life these days. That’s wonderful 🙂

    And, um…I’ll take a piece of that pie 😉


  4. jenclair

    Oh, yes, the birthdays now have a different impact. There are more behind than ahead, but you are right about making the most of the ones we have.

    Our language always has greater impact than we realize, just as our thoughts do. I’ve never broken down some of the ones you mentioned or thought specifically of them before, yet there is a sense of recognition. The metaphors for marriage were interesting, as were the political metaphors for enemies. I think this is a book that I’d enjoy as semantics and language continue to fascinate me.

    And those pies look delicious!


  5. Matt

    Happy Birthday to your husband! My birthday is Nov 18 as well! 🙂

    Another coincidence, Professor Lakoff is a linguist at UC Berkeley, where I’m working on my grad degree.

    Metaphors not only make our life and thoughts more vivid, they can make light of a serious or embarrassing situation. Metaphors can be euphemistic.


  6. Robin

    Thank, Kay. So many books, so little time! I passed along your birthday greetings, and both of us chuckled at the modification to your 50-page rule.

    Thanks, Nymeth. The ideas he shared with me were really interesting and thought-provoking. I haven’t actually looked through the book yet to see how it is written, but with your interest in myth and metaphor, you might find it worth reading.

    Thanks, Cath. I wonder about that, too. I thought of all the changes my grandmother witnessed in her lifetime and just amazing.

    Thanks, Chris, Next time you’re in the Seattle area, you’re invited over for a piece of pie!

    Thanks, Jenclair. I’m looking forward to a closer look at the book, or my turn to read it. I found those marriage metaphors fascinating, too!

    Thanks, Iliana! Like I told Chris, let us know when you’re heading for Seattle! Book friends and pie sound wonderful to me!

    Wow, Matt! That’s a lot of coincidences there, added to the fact that my husband grew up in Alameda! A very happy birthday to you, too!


  7. Nan -

    You can tell him I’m not that far behind. It’s funny. I’ve never cared much about birthday ages, but this one is different. I think it’s because if you go back 20 years, you were 40. And that doesn’t seem so very long ago. But if you go ahead 20, you area 80. Eek!
    And didn’t Kay say the funniest thing about the books at 100?!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s