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Monday, January 23, 2012

Life Personified


A friend recently commented on my habit of personifying things. At first I wasn’t sure what he meant so I looked it up on dictionary.com: “per·son·i·fi·ca·tio [per-son-uh-fi-key-shuh n] noun, the attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions.”
He was right. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I think I do it because life has become so big and scary that humanizing things brings life down to my level.

Living in a world where, amongst other things, loved ones suddenly depart to the “other side,” unable to at least send us a postcard on what’s waiting for us there, can be quite unnerving. So, I talk to life as though it were human, slapping back when it pisses me off, arguing with it when it seems unfair, and dancing with it down the middle of my road. Weird? Maybe. But giving life brown eyes and a New England accent certainly demystifies it.



Personification transforms death into a likable dude saddled with a really crappy job. Summer, becomes a barefoot playmate, eating cherry Popsicles, and writing love letters in the sand. Old age becomes my treasured grandmother, with a twinkle in her eye, and a lifetime of wisdom to share. Fear, becomes a friend that I can count on to alert me to danger. But I’ve also found him to be a loud-mouthed bully, exaggerating facts and stirring up rumors. It’s always a crapshoot with fear, so it’s best to get to know him really well so that you’ll be able to tell when he’s lying to you.

I’m not alone in my need for personification. The ancient cultures did it all the time. The Chinese, Greeks, Celtics, Norse, Romans, and Japanese loved to put faces on everything. I was particularly impressed with the endless list of Chinese gods. Among them were the god of wine, wages, and sexual delights.



I assume the god of wine has a red nose and an air of snobbery about him, and the god of wages looks like a union boss chewing on a cigar as he counts out a wad of cash. The god of sexual delights is probably part male and female, having all the parts and knowing all the right moves.

The book of Proverbs calls wisdom a woman. A captain addresses his ship as a she. To a writer a blank sheet of paper can become either a heckler or an inspiring lover, depending on the day.

So, in my life the moon is a poet, worry is a coward, fear is a liar, and love is a hopeless romantic who dances barefoot across a bed of hot coals.

My Chihuahua has a voice; she’s a shifty 4 pounder who whispers to get my attention, and follows me around like a spy. She sees everything that I do and if she could actually speak I’m afraid I would probably have to kill her because she knows way too much!



34 comments:

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

Personification personified! Exquisitely executed here, Leah!
Enjoyed every delightful moment of this read.
Blessings!

Leah Griffith said...

LOL!! Good one Martha! Glad you enjoyed it;)

Susan Deborah said...

Being an English teacher, I possess this habit in excess (my students do, as well). And I pretty much have the same reasons as you.

Loved the trivia at the end of the post. Delightful and informative.

So wishing you many more delightful personifying ideas,
Susan

Rimly said...

I so love your style of writing Leah. Talking of personifying things, I tend to do that. It makes me come to terms with life more easily.

JANU said...

You are like the wine...getting better with age.
Such a delightful read.

Chris said...

This was beautiful. So down to earth and poetic at the same time. I always thought of personification as giving 'inanimate entities' and 'objects' too much credit in bringing them up to human level, but you showed me how I can look at it as scaling things down to (manageable) size.

Greetings from across the ocean,
Chris

Leah Griffith said...

Susan, I love the thought of your students putting faces on the things in life that seem so much bigger than they are. I bet you're an amazing teacher!

Leah Griffith said...

Exactly Rimly. For some reason it seems to be my default setting lately. It's okay. I like it. You're a poet so I can definitely understand your bend to it.

Leah Griffith said...

Janu, thank you sweetheart!

Leah Griffith said...

Chris, I do that too;) But I think you know that about me.
I can't wait to talk to you!

sulekkha said...

Leah, you are a versatile writer and I just adore your every post. Amazing ideas and great execution, always.

Leah Griffith said...

Sulekkha, thank you dear heart for your sweet words.
Hugs,
Leah

saviragupta said...

Leah you have my ok to be personified to the fullest... This was a really witty post...

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Saviragupta! I'm glad you understand;)

Andy said...

Hello Leah.
What a character you are! I need to stop by here more often for my dose of laughs. The video is hilarious.
Awesome post!
Thanks for sharing.

Jan said...

How grand is this. I personify things as well. My car is in a bad mood if she wont start, things like that. I like yours better....<3

The Loerzels said...

I always knew there was a wine god!

Leah Griffith said...

Right Jan! I even named my car;) I think we all tend to personify things I just didn't realize how often I'd been doing it.

Leah Griffith said...

Ah Marie! my favorite traveler. Yes! I believe there's a god of chocolate too;)

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Andy, glad I could make you smile;)

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

What an interesting perspective! Thanks for expanding my view today.

~Debbie

Leah Griffith said...

Hahaha! Debbie, you're so gracious;)

Jayne said...

Woof, woof! I'll bet your 4 pounder would have lots of interesting things to say, but all of it humorous and sweet.

As I read this piece my mother called to tell me that two people had recently died. One, a former governor or RI, Joseph Garrahy, and the other, my father's cousin--who was Chief of Staff during Governor Garrahy's administration. Isn't that weird? Then, I realized that if death is a "likable dude saddled with a really crappy job," my mother is his PR specialist--she spreads the news when he's done his job well.

Great piece, Leah. I really like Summer, as "a barefoot playmate, eating cherry Popsicles, and writing love letters in the sand." Spot on. ;)

Brooke said...

Just honoring you. You are such a wonderful writer and it is such a treat to get doses of you. It shouldn't be free. Feel like I should be able to give you something more than these words. Thank you also for the lovely Beetles video. What fun!

Dangerous Linda said...

Hi, Leah! ~

This post reminds me of a favorite quotes from a favorite author -- thank you for all that you are! :

“In your dark night you may learn a secret hidden from modern people generally: the truth of things can only be expressed aesthetically – in story, picture, film, dance, music. Only when ideas are poetic do they reach the depths and express the reality.” — Thomas Moore, Ph.D.

Jessica M said...

This was a great post..very well written. I'm glad I got the chance to stop by!:)

Leah Griffith said...

Jayne, you have some interesting history in your family. I have a cousin who, like your mom, has appointed himself as speaker of the house. He faithfully sends me the obituaries of all known family members and acquaintances. Actually, I believe he's sent me a few obituaries of people I never knew! LOL!!
Thanks for stopping by my dear;)

Leah Griffith said...

Linda, that's a lovely quote. Thank you!

Leah Griffith said...

Brooke, your words are like a cool breeze on a fevered brow.
Always,
Leah

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Jessica! I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

sm said...

in my life the moon is a poet, worry is a coward, fear is a liar
beautiful expressions

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you sm!

Tameka said...

I always feel smarter after I read your posts. I loved the pace of this and enjoyed the tasty meat inside. Mmmm, mmmm, good!

http://lyricfire.typepad.com/lyric-fire/2012/01/lyric-fire-word-warrior-or-apathetic-author-.html

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Tameka, brave word warrior sister;)

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