Turning Over a New Leaf

If you are inspired by metaphors (and I suspect almost everyone is, to some degree), it can be important to have the right one. It’s one thing to motivate yourself with imagery of agriculture and harvest, for instance, quite another to rely on images of bloody warfare. Both might be good sources of metaphors for completing projects—bringing things to fruition vs. slaying them—but they create a very different atmosphere.

For some reason, I always associated the phrase “to turn over a new leaf” with this kind of leaf:

Quite recently, however, it occurred to me that it has nothing to do with trees, but actually refers to this kind of leaf:

Leaf from a French Book of Hours, c. 1460

Now this, to me, is much more awesome. I’m not saying I prefer books to trees (and I’m not saying I don’t, either—let’s just leave that aside). But the point is that turning over a leaf in a book is something you do repeatedly, over and over, in order to finish the book. It’s not once-and-for-all revolution, this type of turning. It’s business as usual. Oh, I know that’s not how people typically use the expression. But somehow it helps me to think of it that way.

I may suspect that my new resolution will not last long, but that is no reason not to give it a try. I can make progress without the certainty of permanence. There are lots of leaves in the book.

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