In times of deep moments in our lives we often look for metaphors to try and make sense of things. Imagine then the situation where an elderly lady asks a young girl what she should do. She is lost, she is scared. She believes she’s on a bus on her way home from school, the only problem is she does not recognise the streets the bus is riding down, she does not recognise the houses either. She is confused. But the young girl knows better. She knows the old lady is in hospital, that her days are numbered and that one day soon she will be at peace, so the young girl advises her grandmother to ‘stay on the bus for a while’.
What a metaphor this is. On the one hand, we can hear these seven words as a simple piece of advice, on the other hand we can hear them as profound wisdom, as a poem to calm the questioner. However, we can also hear them for what they are, a recommendation to anyone who is not quite sure what to do.
This week I was asked for my professional opinion. I tried to help, I tried to listen but I felt unqualified to answer. I wish now that I had taken the young girl’s approach. Instead I tried to be intellectual, to rationalize, to give a quasi-scientific, management speak answer. What I should have said was ‘stay on the bus for a while’. Nothing more would have been needed. I believe my client and friend would have understood.
Have a good week