Having grown up in Colorado, Telluride was a place of myth and legend. I remember learning the story about how the town got its name as a result of an angry Marshall yelling at the infamous outlaw, “To hell you ride, Jesse James!” as the bandit flew forth into the beautiful box canyon. My mother also had a photo hanging in the house that she had taken of the mystical waterfall that so famously lies at the deepest recess of the canyon. She was proud of the photo because of the journey that it took to get there and the memory that it fostered. My own experience of Telluride as a young skier was that it was the toughest mountain around, and my father wouldn’t let me ski with him on our first trip to the area. He said I’d have to grow into it. And, so it loomed large in my consciousness throughout my years growing up.
Its funny how life’s journey is full of such symbols. Things as seemingly simple as a town name, a beautiful waterfall and a recreational mountain populate the psyche with wonder and mystery. We all have symbols like this, and they bring meaning and richness to our everyday lives. The shell on our nightstand is not simply a shell, but a totem from a memorable experience of communing with the ocean. When we touch it, the experience is brought back to life for us, resurrected in our consciousness as if we still stood barefoot with the sand on our toes. The power of symbols connects us to something deeper within us, and the exploration of that brings meaning to our life.
If we take the time to work with the symbols that resurrect what is within us, we discover what is most important to us. When we live in accord with that, then we walk in alignment with our soul’s purpose. Symbols are the key to lifting the meaning that lies within so that we can see it, observe it, and work with it in our daily practice. It begins when we realize the symbols; we know them because they are evocative. They inspire emotion, connection, and they kindle joy. When the inner spark is lit because of a legendary mountain, or a small shell, we are on the right track—a track that leads us on the greatest journey, the one that brings us home to ourselves.