Power of metaphor–and stories

Last evening, my friend Heidi and I finally caught up with each other by telephone. Heidi teaches at Berkeley High but she’s been on leave for a while, returning with the new semester. We met about a decade ago (already!) and together brought Earphone English into the world with less than half a dozen students, back in 2000. The program’s been running strong ever since (with about 100 kids a year) and so, besides being friends, we feel like parents together, too.


One of the bits of news she passed along last evening was that a former student has been spending time with her during college winter break, and Heidi had taken her for a very first driving lesson. Now, since learning to drive is on my own short list of things that must be achieved this winter, I was duly impressed, motivated, chagrined to be lagging behind, etc. When I muttered about that, Heidi came up with the perfect response, one only an English teacher would know: she gave me a metaphor. My entire life has been lived metaphor to metaphor; I probably didn’t learn to crawl until I’d figured out the right metaphor….


“Oh, come on, you can use a sewing machine. If you can use a sewing machine you can drive. You use your foot and you put your hands on the cloth that you’re guiding at 10:10, just like the steering wheel,” she said in that no nonsense tone that is pure Heidi.


Well, yeah, I can do that. And will do that. Soon.


In the meantime, life takes me from English teacher to college English major–or old friend of a former IHC English major. My mention here of my friend the Carmelite nun seems to have found a former high school classmate of hers, giving that story a new chapter that won’t be mine to tell but which is so amazing that I feel like I’ve got sunstroke…in spite of tonight’s howling rainstorm.

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