Rearranging the furniture (a metaphor)

Metaphor works by comparing something abstract and intangible (a concept like “personal change”) to something that we’ve bumped up against in real life. It’s not just a straight one-to-one transfer: it makes use of a trail of associations to apply a whole pattern to the situation you are trying to understand or communicate.

Think about it this way. When you come to see a memory in a new light, it is as if you have rearranged the furniture in your mind. You know what it is like when you rearrange the furniture in a room at home. It’s the same room and the same furniture, but it feels a little different. You have to live with it for a day or two before you can be sure whether you like the new arrangement. And if you walk into the room in the dark, you are bound to bump into something that used to belong somewhere else.

Rearranging the furniture can create new space and new functionality in a room. It’s a good thing. But at the moment when your shin connects with something hard, it does not feel entirely like a good thing. That’s the nature of change. We like it - after it stops feeling like change.

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