Time as a metaphor can open up as much energy as splitting an atom. The possibilities seem infinite whether we approach it only in chronos time, or in kairos time. Combining both areas together can overwhelm our imagination with the result that we often return to clichés or common metaphors in order to communicate even the most basic characteristics.
Every day we live in both time dimensions. We march to chronos clock schedule. We hold our breath and our souls drink in kairos eternity. When we’re fortunate the two combine and give us a sense of timelessness. We are infused with a sense of purpose. And when our lives start to drift we hold onto those images to keep us on track. Often the very common images themselves are rooted in the ordinary and yet we see something far more.
In the recent movie Hugo this concept of time as metaphor is explored with extensive creativity, unveiling itself in multiple ways. The kairos time shines through the literal clock-ticking center. Keeping the clocks wound daily grounds the young boy Hugo into an everyday rhythm of reality. And living with the clocks keeps him connected to the memory of his father and the dreams of a new future. The clocks are so ingrained in his life that in some ways they become a picture of his heartbeat.
And still everyone will see this image through a different perspective. I came to the movie version without having read the novel. And I have not seen the 3D version. Others who have bring a different interpretation. In addition we all add our own personal ‘time’ attitudes to the mix. And the possibilities continue to explode into more metaphors.
1. Have a conversation with your protagonist and ask how she feels about time. Is it an ogre waiting to devour her day or a beloved friend inviting her to adventure?
2. Make a list of words that reflect her perspective. Look for small opportunities to incorporate them either as description or turn them into new metaphors. Even if time itself is not a central theme in your story the attitude towards it can still be heightened for effect.
Share: How do you see time? J