This essay examines narrative forms and types of metaphor that relate to “getting on with life”—that middle part of life's story, which is neither start nor finish. Narrative theorists tend to assume that humans, since they began telling stories in ancient times, have relished openings and ritualized endings. Metaphors abound when we think of start-ups or endings, but neither narratives nor metaphors immediately come to mind when we think about the middle parts of lives or events. Adults tend to view stories as stretching on too long when their middle portions hold listeners or readers back from “the point.” Children, however, often relish the long middle portions of their storybooks, wanting to see how events move forward and back, rather than just how they end. Poets, along with post-modern writers of fiction, also have more tolerance for the openness of narrative middles. Considered here, in terms of the field of medicine, is the probing power of being within the dual sense of movement and stagnation that resides within metaphors and narratives of the middle.

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