Do our surroundings shape us by mythologizing these symbols within us? Was one landscape more intense than the other and in what way? So, what do our childhood surroundings say about us? Is there a symbol that we carry unconsciously somewhere in the deep recesses of our hearts?
I love these questions, Shaahayda. And your descriptions of mountains, your own geography growing up and then these fine questions suggest to me that the geography we inhabit has profound impacts on our thinking. I remember when my wife, son Matt at the time 3.5 years old and I were invited to live in Rome, Italy for two years where I taught for the Univ. of Dallas’ semester abroad program. I also directed the program for 3/4 of the time we were there.
We felt a deep transformation walking the streets of Rome, Florence, Assissi, and so many others, largely because of the fountains, the mythic statues, the landscape animated by so much art. When we returned to Dallas and visited other American cities, we felt like we were in a wasteland: no images, no living myths around us in shapes and figures. The two years in Italy shaped us in ways that we feel today with gratitude. I can only imagine living at the base of a mountain. We lived close to the shores of the Pacifica ocean for 15 years as well and know the ocean changed us as well.
That these places become symbolic presences in us is without a doubt true. So worthy of reflecting on, for in the memory we also mythologize our past, story them into coherence where they may not have had such coherence at the time. So geography, memory, telling our life events as a continuous story–all these shape who we are in very positive ways. Thank you for all your wisdom in your postings, Shaahayda. A pleasure to read them.