For the first time since 1997, it rained during the first two weeks of June. Phoenix doesn’t get rain in June unless the monsoons start early. I turned off the irrigation system, and was watering the plants that the rain missed. The ones tucked into the corners of the house, under the eaves.
There is something lovely about standing outside at night, an indigo sky over me, spangled by stars. House blink off and on and off along the street and the smell of wet pavement and dust. So I stand outside, the only person out in the street, watering the plants so they can face the desert sun tomorrow, having had time to soak up the moisture.
Metaphors make up a lot of my life. Looking at one thing, I can easily see it symbolizing something else, deeper, more important. Without metaphor, I couldn’t make it through one coaching session. Metaphor explains hard concepts in ways that are easier to understand.
As I came in from watering the plants, I wondered about effort. The largest effort at the wrong time, no matter how sincere, is still at the wrong time. Someone offers to change the oil right after you’ve had it done, and the effort is wasted. We wrong someone, we don’t apologize because we don’t think we were at fault. The hurt grows lager. The friendship falls apart over time. Years later, an apology won’t mend the friendship, won’t fix the wrong.
The rule of comedy is “timing is everything,” but I think it works that way in real life, too.
A problem you are trying to solve won’t get solved, no matter how hard you try. You walk away, and half an hour later the answer comes to you–in detail and just right. I don’t think you can force creative energy, love, or growth. Metaphors have to happen. Sometimes you can let the rain handle the watering, sometimes you have to do it yourself.
—Quinn McDonald is a naturalist who sees metaphors everywhere.