Guiding Words: 40 Metaphors About Life to Think Over

metaphors about life

So many of us have quotes that guide the way we think. Metaphors can be a powerful form of speech that provides depth and meaning to general thoughts about life, as well as how we continue to embark on our futures.

Here are some of the best metaphors about life that will leave you thinking about them for years to come.

1. “Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” – Truman Capote

2. “There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

3. “Life is a series of collisions with the future.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset

4. “Life, as the most ancient of all metaphors insists, is a journey; and the travel book, in its deceptive simulation of the journey’s fits and starts, rehearses life’s own fragmentation. More even than the novel, it embraces the contingency of things.” – Jonathan Raban

5. “Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint on it you can.” – Danny Kaye

6. “Sport is a wonderful metaphor for life. Of all the sports that I played – skiing, baseball, fishing – there is no greater example than golf, because you’re playing against yourself and nature.” – Robert Redford

7. “There was an invisible necklace of nows, stretching out in front of her along the crazy, twisting road, each bead a golden second.” – Frances Hardinge

8. “‘Life’ wrote a friend of mine, ‘is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.’” – E.M. Forster

9. “The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car… a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little.” – Ben Sweetland

10. “Life was a damned muddle – a football game with everyone offside and referee gotten rid of – everyone claiming the referee would have been on his side.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

11. “Life is like an echo. What you send out comes back.” – Chinese Proverb

12. “Throughout my life, I’ve had different metaphors for freedom. At one time, it was skin diving. In the ocean you feel weightless, you escape from gravity.” – Sam Keen

13. “Bridges are metaphors for everything in life… The bridge is not just about getting back and forth between north and south. The bridge is about connecting our communities.” – Jim West

14. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

15. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” – William Shakespeare

16. “Life is like an elevator. On your way up, sometimes you have to stop and let some people off.” – Ziad K. Abdelnour

17. “Baseball is a lot like life. It’s a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.” – Ernie Harwell

18. “Life is like an onion: you peel off layer after layer and then you find there is nothing in it.” – James Huneker

19. “I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot.” – Natalie Comaneci

20. “Life is little more than a loan shark: it exacts a very high rate of interest for the few pleasures it concedes.” – Luigi Pirandello

21. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” – Frederick Douglass

22. “Life is like a beautiful melody, only the lyrics are messed up.” – Hans Christian Anderson

23. “Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lights… or other new beginnings.” – Amby Burfoot

24. “They say it is better to travel than to arrive. It’s not been my experience, at least. The journey of love has been rather a lacerating, if well-worth-it, journey.” – D.H. Lawrence

25. “Life is not having been told that the man has just waxed the floor.” – Ogden Nash

26. “I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.” – Alice Roosevelt Longworth

27. “You crawl out of your mother’s womb, you crawl across open country under fire, and drop into your grave.” – Quentin Crisp

28. “Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” – Richard Bach

29. “Life is a long road on a short journey.” – James Lendall Basford

30. “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

31. “Time is the moving image of eternity.” – Plato

32. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

33. “Life is a piano dropped from a four-story window and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” – Ani Difranco

34. “Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one’s horse as he is leaping.” – Julius C. & Augustus W. Hare

35. “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michaelangelo

36. “Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.” – Richard Kadrey

37. “Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar.” – Jim Butcher

38. “Failure is the condiment that gives success its failure.” – Truman Capote

39. “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” – Albert Einstein

40. “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.” – John Adams

Picking a metaphor to help you through the ups and downs of life can create a powerful mindset. Think long and hard about which metaphors mean the most to you and why.