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Malaphor — (noun) — an idiom blend; an error in which two similar figures of speech are merged, producing an amusing or nonsensical result.

I can’t believe I’ve lived so long without encountering this marvelous term until this week. It’s kind of like a mixed metaphor, but mashed-up into one interesting turn of phrase. Two or more clichés or aphorisms are combined to delightful effect. My title is an example: an amalgamation of “easy as falling off a log” and “piece of cake.”

I found lists of malaphors, and I love them all. Until the cows freeze over. It’s not rocket surgery. You hit the nail right on the nose.

The best ones aren’t just silly but also seem to hint at another, often ironic, meaning. Maybe they start out as a mistake, but then also accidentally reveal a deeper truth. The road to hell is always greener on the other side. We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it. You’ve opened that can of worms, now lie in it. It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake…

This last has been frolicking around in my head this week. The two original expressions describe effortlessness. But combined they suggest something else. The opposite, perhaps. Like a double-negative. What does it mean when it’s a snap to stop smooth sailing? It’s as simple as making things complicated. It sounds like my life.

Last Sunday, my friend Bitsy offered the invocation at the start of service. If you’ve heard her, you know that she does gorgeous spontaneous prayers, and this was no exception. In the middle of this one, she said something that I had to write down as soon as I had a chance. I’m not sure that I’ve got it exactly right, but it was something to the effect of: “It’s going to be okay. It’s meant to be okay. It’s okay.”

It was a perfect progression, and a beautiful summary of affirmative prayer. 1) An optimistic declaration. 2) A remembrance that the Universe is indeed a harmonious whole in which things really are designed to work together, even in my life, even in the world as it is. 3) Allowing that this can be my experience right now.

It includes both intention and surrender. Choice and acceptance. As easy as falling off a piece of cake into the wonderful confusion of everything, and letting that be alright.

If we’re willing to be okay only when things are a cakewalk — that doesn’t make room for anything new, anything challenging, anything transformative. If we’ll claim satisfaction only when everything is how we want it to be and we’re sure it will stay that way forever — we deny ourselves all but the most fleeting glimmers of hope and happiness.

We’re coming up on Bodhi Day, the celebration of Siddhartha Gautama’s enlightenment, when he became the Buddha. He recognized that life always includes suffering, that this suffering is caused by attachment to particular outcomes, that this suffering is temporary and will pass as we awaken to our connection to each other and everything.

Perhaps falling off the cake is the key to enlightenment. We can’t very well have it and eat it if we’re standing on it.

I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, December 3, 10:00 am at Maple Street Dance Space. With the divine Patty Stephens. XO, Drew

©2023 Drew Groves

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