Monday, January 23, 2012
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!
Posted by Leah Griffith at 4:06 PM