Metaphor

I began writing this as I pondered the definition of the H/humanities. I initially thought that this would be my definition in the form of an overarching metaphor about the nature of knowledge and comparing the many challenges faced to the various subjects of Humes. However, it was slightly too abstract and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pass this as a definition of the H/humanities. I awarded myself more creative freedom and continued writing. I have never written a creative piece before, so this was a new endeavor for me. Hopefully you enjoy my metaphor for the nature of knowledge.

There once lived a young woman in a small town on the outskirts of a large and ominous forest. His town has been home to many visitors over the years, for this town is the last settlement on the path to the center of the wood. Many of the bravest young people venture into the woods on a quest filled with uncertainty. Those who have returned are completely transformed, however, it becomes difficult for the townspeople to understand the tales from these journeys. 

One day this young woman, driven by her own curiosity, set out with some provisions, a knife, and a sleeping bag to venture into the forest. The path could be made out, but obviously no one had come down in a rather long time. Not long after entering, she encountered an elk. She had never before seen a creature of that magnitude, and she felt a wave of fear pass over her. The elk, sensing this fear and seeing the knife, bounded away into the thick underbrush.  As dusk approached on the first day, the woman found a toppled log blocking the path. Using the only tool she had at her disposal, she began hacking away at the log. This woman, blinded by her own obliviosness and her reliance on the tools she already possessed, had inflicted damage upon the very forest itself. The log was one of the arteries of the forest: a great root of the grand tree at the center of the wood. She gave up as night closed in around her and set up camp for the night, hiding from the night within her sleeping bag. 

The next morning the woman awoke to find the progress she had many slashing through the log had been futile. There was no sign of damage anywhere. She let out an exacerbated cry as she thought she would never make it through the forest. Just then, she saw a bug out of the corner of her eye. The bug flew alongside the log for a while and then disappeared into the log. She noticed a few broken branches and trodden earth along the side of the log. The young heroine picked her way through the underbrush, following the faint trail that lay before her. Alas! There was an opening though the great root, just barely large enough for her to squeeze through. 

As the girl crawled through the great root, it felt as if the bark and wood were breathing. The girl was crawling for several minutes, but the light at the end encouraged her to continue. She emerged at the other end to a blinding light and an expansive field of flowers. The flowers were of any color imaginable and vibrant as can be. Not wanting to waste any time, the heroine quickly picked out the path and set out deeper into the heart of the forest.  

The woman began to hear an unfamiliar sound, almost like a torrent of wind. As she walked along the path, the sound grew ever louder. It was not long before she approached a bluff, and peered down below. What she saw bewildered her eyes: a majestic, but powerful torrent of water rushing through the channel below. She thought for a second. The divide was too long to jump. She then recalled her experience with the log and began to look for signs of those who had come before her. A few broken branches leading to what appeared to be an opening through some brush caught her eye, and she quickly embarked through the bushes. What she found was a fallen tree crossing the divide. The tree looked feeble and rotten, but she decided to cross anyway. A few steps in, the log began to creak and groan under her feet, and she feared that she may lose her balance. Nevertheless, she persisted. About halfway across, the log started to snap. Coincidentally, a vine was hanging from a branch stretching its arm over the river. Unwilling to face the rapids below, Lily, took a fateful leap for the vine. She grasped on, and her momentum managed to carry her safely to the other side. 

The sun was beginning to set, but Lily was determined to continue on. By the time she settled down for the evening, the forest was bathed in dim moonlight and was serenaded by the orchestra of nature. Noticing the beauty of the moon, Lily decided to camp out in the open this night. She gazed upon the moon and the stars and pondered the universe. As she reflected upon the vastness of outer space, she realized that the world is so much greater than herself. Thinking of the stars, planets, and moons engaged in their celestial dance, she wondered how it was possible for such a vast network of objects to live in harmony. That night, Lily decided she would try her best to live in harmony with those around her. 

That morning, Lily awoke to the sound of birds chirping, ate a handful of berries for breakfast, and began on her way. The path was becoming ever fainter. It was clear that not many have come this far before. However, the natural beauty was growing ever more vibrant. Lily gazed up at the great oaks and sycamores dancing in the breeze, in perfect unison, gently brushing the sky. She came upon another clearing filled with flowers. This time, she stopped, took in the beauty, and even smelled a few. The fragrance smelled like strawberries on a summer evening. As Lily waded through the sea of flowers and fragrance, she spotted an elk on the edge of the clearing. She couldn’t tell if it was the same elk that she saw the first day, but it looked awfully familiar. Rather than fright or reach for her knife, Lily remained calm, her breathing holding steady. She felt a different connection to the forest, like seeing through new eyes. And just like that, the elk was gone, bounding away into the undergrowth. Nonetheless, Lily held on to that experience for the rest of her life. 

The next day, Lily ventured further into the woods. The trees were growing larger and the light was growing more scarce. She could tell that the forest was older here, it almost felt alive. She hears a rustle in the underbrush, and halts her progress. A low growl seeps from the bushes to her left, and a pair of dark, beady eyes make their way into the open. Reflecting on her previous experience, Lily remains calm. Rather than flee or attack, Lily assesses the situation. The beast looks well fed, so it is probably not hungry. Then, she sees a trickle of crimson running down the wolf’s shoulder. She reasons that the wolf must have been injured in a previous altercation. The wolf is putting on a show of fierceness and aggression, but in reality is just as scared as Lily is. Lily places the knife she had been carrying on the ground and pushes it away. She then slowly and carefully moves along the path, keeping a safe distance and an eye on the wolf. 

Shortly thereafter, she emerges from the thick of the forest into a brightly lit clearing. The grass and flowers are swaying in the breeze, little fluffs of seeds float about the beams of light refracted in the forest, and in the center sits a small cabin with a moss roof. Lily tentatively makes her way to the cabin. Her heart is racing with the anticipation of the culmination of her journey. She slowly cracks open the door and steps into the cabin that is just barely large enough to turn around in. An owl sitting atop a perch turns its head and addresses Lily. In a voice eerily familiar he says “I’m going to tell you a story.”

The Image above has no relevance to the portfolio, but I needed it to be published online for another project.

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