The choice for my first day of mindful walking was a no-brainer. I’d thumbed through Afoot and Lighthearted and chosen “Analogies” as my first point to ponder on my stroll along the beach. According to a study by Stanford Researchers in 2014, walking can lead to an increase in “analogical creativity.” And who doesn’t enjoy a clever and enlightening analogy? I mean, a good analogy is like the perfect word … when the perfect word eludes or doesn’t exist.
When asked to describe heaven, Christ responded, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed … a merchant seeking fine pearls … a treasure ….” He knew there was no human word that would adequately capture the divine concept of it, so he relied on analogies.
Whenever I read, I’m always on the lookout for the well-stated comparison that shows me what a character is seeing or feeling or experiencing. One of the best tools for helping me understand a complex problem is to begin with, “It’s like this …”
In her book, Whitehouse gives an excellent exercise to follow, which I might use at a later time. But for this walk, I followed only the first part of her instructions: Let your mind wander. For me, the quickest way to squelch creativity is to demand I come up with something: “On this walk, you WILL come up with an analogy.” So I set out walking with the suggestion nestled comfortably in the back of my mind.
It didn’t take long to come upon two women carefully inspecting a pile of shells freshly washed ashore. Every so often, they’d pick up something and place it in their opposite palm for safekeeping. My curiosity was piqued because I could see absolutely nothing worth collecting in that pile of broken, garden-variety shells.
But just in case I was missing out on something, I asked, “What are you looking for?”
“Augers,” one of the women said. She held out her hand to reveal the tiny tips of conical-shaped shells.
I was delighted. The aptly named tips did indeed resemble little drill bits. What fun to search for them! How cute would these tiny treasures be displayed in a tiny bottle next to my sea glass collection! They had a fantasy quality to them … like tiny unicorn horns. (An analogy!)
And so I was on a roll. I noticed people all up and down the beach, involved in hunts of one kind or another. I started asking what they were searching for. Answers varied and they’d show you the results of their searches—colorful shells, bits of glass or sand dollars, parts of sea animals.
And that’s when another analogy came to me.
Perhaps life is a treasure hunt and we are all treasure seekers. We go through our days searching for the good, the delightful, the beautiful—something that brings us joy. The fortunate find it; others give up too easily or search for the wrong things in the wrong places. But I think as long as we are intent in the pursuit of what is good, we’ll be be happy in our search and eventually rewarded. And in our search for the ultimate Truth, Jeremiah 29:13 promises us this: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Do you have any favorite analogies? Any that are original to you? If not, lace up your shoes and start walking. And happy treasure hunting!