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Symbols & Signs, Life's Guidebook

Text by: Benji Schultz

Look around you. Your life is soaked with the presence of symbols and signs: the ring around your finger, the good luck charm in your purse, the wrinkles on your forehead, the bumper sticker on your car, and how about that lucky coin or prized collection of baseball cards you keep in storage collecting dust? The things we allow to exist about, tell a story about (us). These symbols tell about you, how you've lived, what you stand for—they also reveal a pathway or a road ahead and signs that you should be aware of. Signs are guidelines or bits of knowledge that God or the universe has placed on your journey to teach you—a visual "Guide Book" to life.

These symbols hang onto you like a dangling memory, a memory of who you once were and where you could be going—the cross you wear on your neck, or the last bit of perfume you still keep in the bottle because the scent reminds you of someone, and you don't want to forget. Symbols ask you questions if you listen: "Do you really believe in Jesus Christ, or do you just wear that around your neck out of habit?" "Are you in love with her still? Why do you keep that old sweater—just because it reminds you of your time with her?" Perhaps these symbols aren't questions at all? Remember how powerful the ring was in Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings? Symbolic objects can hold great power over human nature and can become great motivators in changing one's destiny.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

Have you thrown out those old love letters? Have you read them lately? What about the things in your diary—little memories stuffed between the pages, old stickers and random photographs sticking out reminding you of that school dance, of days at the beach, of your younger body. That is your past, when your body was new; now you see your skin showing spots, getting older. Life is telling you that you are changing, moving through the middle (and someday, to the end) of your journey in your body. How will you internalize these signs? Many people will ignore the signs and pay no attention to the symbols they keep around them; these are the unhappy ones. Happy, content people are in balance with their history, their present, and their future course.

We need to be aware and understanding of life's symbols and signs. These symbols I are the treasures of our life. They are gold and rubies in the form of memories, sometimes nearly forgotten—experiences and tokens that we've picked up along the way that have written our life story. They teach us something about ourselves, about the people and the events that have molded us and shaped us, reminders of pain and misery,
© Zen Goddess Photography
death and love—forging our pathways, shaping our destiny. I have a blanket that my wife made for me a few years ago. She used old, unfitting t-shirts to make a quilt. At the time I was not happy that she ruined my favorite shirts to make a blanket for me; now it is my favorite blanket. Not only is the blanket soft, but also it reminds me of my past, the good times I've had, the feelings I once had and the hopes I cherished when I was younger. I like to wrap myself up my history blanket; it makes me feel connected to myself. If we don't connect with who we are, how can we understand the roadmap and direction of our life? This clarity of mind gives poise to our day; it gives inspiration to our actions.

If symbols are the treasure we've collected along the way, then signs are the treasure maps of the journey before us, telltale signs in the present that whisper of an impending future. Signs come in different ways; their patterns can be seen in nature—the way the wind blows and the sky looks before a storm, the way your child looks at you if you yell at her, the things your spouse doesn't say, the way your stomach feels when you load it with junk food.

I know a girl who kept a ring in her purse from a boyfriend whom she had broken up with many years prior. He had gotten married, and she had no contact with him. I found the ring by accident; I asked her if she still loved him. She said no, and at the time I think she really meant it.
© Jessica Ceason Photography
Years later, after he was divorced, she reconnected with him, and she married him.

We can take notice of the symbols and signs around, if we truly listen and observe. Perhaps then we will reflect a little more deeply, take time to ponder our lives and those things we carry with us constantly. In a way, it's our soul looking into the mirror and telling itself what it really looks like. We have to listen to the signs—signs of our bodies telling us when we are sick, when we need more sleep, when we are lonely, when we need more personal connection with our loved ones—to keep our future course in line with the person we want to be.

Perhaps if we really listen to ourselves, to nature around us, and to others, then we can enjoy more peace, happiness, understanding, and clarity in life, things we are all seeking for.