I first encountered cairns in 2003 on a hike near Moab, Utah. My hiking companion and I were heading towards Delicate Arch across slippery rock, our trail blazed with stacks of red stone. I’d been on many hikes in my home state of Colorado, but never one marked in such a unique way.
Over the next week and many hours of hiking, we grew to rely to our ever-present stone guides. They provided navigation and confidence, showing us that we were on the right path.
As we hiked, we began to see cairns as much more than utilitarian markers along our path.
We began to see cairns as symbols of a well-balanced life.
Returning home from my Utah hike, the symbol of the cairn remained with me. Over the years, this seed of a symbol has grown and become central to how I lead my life.
The symbol has provided comfort and guidance during difficult times and a point of focus when moving forward.
I’ve used the idea of the cairn to center my thinking and to bring peace and serenity to chaos. The symbol helps me focus while making difficult decisions and to keep my perspective when life has overwhelmed me to the point of drowning. It has kept me looking forward in times of depression and allowed me to trace the path of my life to its current point.
The cairn is a concrete image – a touchstone - that I can hold in my mind as a point of meditation or a simple reminder of how I want to live my life.
The cairn has become a personal symbol in my quest to live a well-balanced life.