On Myth and Landscape

Chugach Mountains

Chugach Mountains

I had the privilege of leading a workshop in Boulder, Colorado this past weekend. I had never visited that part of Colorado before, and I was blown away by the beauty of the landscape; the mesas and red rocks jutting up out of the mid-western plain like sentinels guarding.

It reminded me profoundly of growing up in the Chugach Mountains, in my home town of Eagle River, Alaska. While I can see mountains from my current home, they’re off in the distance, on the other side of Puget Sound from us.

I noticed right away how different the feeling was, between watching the ocean and its moods every day, versus the stalwart presence of the Rocky Mountains. It got me thinking, as I spoke about myth, creativity, and how our stories influence who we are and what we create. The ocean is a part of who I am and how I tell my story, particularly to myself, but the mountains are a part of my creation myth, one might say. In the workshops we talk about our origins, about how the myths that we were born into can affect our perceptions of ourselves and our work, and by examining them we can decide if those stories still serve us.

The landscape that formed us is the unspoken presence in those stories. The times I spent in the Alaskan bush are an important part of my mythos, as are the times I spent in regular American suburbia. They are all a part of my story, which is a core part of my being. How did the landscape you grew up in become a part of you? If you choose to live elsewhere as an adult, have you noticed a change in your story as your landscape changed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

  One thought on “On Myth and Landscape

  1. April 8, 2015 at 3:07 am

    I love this post! I grew up in suburban Vancouver. About 5 years ago I left it behind to move to a smaller community on Vancouver Island where I’ve reconnected with the ocean and forests. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere but on the coast and I regularly travel to Alaska and dream of visiting the Great Bear Rainforest.

    In making this move, I really found myself relating to the Persephone myth. It was an important, terrifying, soulful lesson that has brought me to a beautiful place in life. I’ve even reconnected with my name – Marina. I never felt a connection to water, preferring to be in the forests. I can’t even swim! But now I can’t imagine living anywhere but near the ocean… 🙂

  2. April 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you, Marina! I understand your call to the ocean. We live in a place now where we have the ocean as a constant presence in our lives, and I can’t imagine giving that up. It has a powerful effect on my life every day.

  3. April 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I grew up in Seattle but was out in the mountains every weekeend skiing or hiking – when we weren’t sailing the San Juans. I live on the ocean now but every couple of decades I go live in the mountains for a few years. I miss the salt air smell and sound of waves and seagulls when I’m in the mountains; I miss the snow and smell of the pines when I’m on the coast. A long walk on the beach, a long ski through the Ponderosas: equally soul-restoring.

  4. April 8, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I feel as if I am always looking for water and mountains on the horizons–grew up with water, in an island city. I love seeing water from where I sit to write this now!

  5. April 8, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    I agree, Jody. One of the great blessings of living in a place like Seattle is the (relatively) easy access to both sea and mountains. Seeing the mountains from a distance and visiting occasionally is not the same as living in them, though. I can understand your impulse to move to the mountains, rather than just living nearby.

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