I stood still, vision blurring, and in that moment, I heard my heart break. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower’s stem.
-Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber
Ever since starting these “Moment” posts a few weeks ago, I have been looking forward to this last in the series. But now that I’m here, I’m afraid that I won’t do the topic justice. How do you describe discovering a place for the first time and having it unexpectedly spin your life’s compass?
It’s been comforting to find other bloggers out there who struggle with the same thing. The travelers and the nature lovers seem, like me, to be the most tongue tied by their observations and experiences. It seems that we all come here to try to give the strong emotions evoked by those experiences an outlet, and to keep the torches lit by them burning by passing the flame to others who may be compelled to seek their own Moments. (To read some beautifully written blogs that touch on these themes, I’d recommend Ever the Wayfarer and Dancing Beastie. I hope they don’t mind me referencing them!). In a recent comment by Ever the Wayfarer’s author, she mentioned the concept of “the sublime”. It’s a good place to start…
In the late 18th century and early 19th century, there was a movement amongst artists, philosophers, and writers to define and capture, by means of pen and brush, the idea of the sublime in nature. It was known as Romanticism, and invokes the likes of Shelley, Keats, Wadsworth, Scott, Cooper, Kant, Burke, and the Hudson River School. They were all trying to express the feeling of being deeply moved by the natural world. Maybe Wadsworth put it best:
“Of aspect more sublime: that blessed mood,
In which the burden of the mystery
In which the heavy and weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lightened” -William Wordsworth
Maybe Romanticism is still alive and well in our modern society. We look to have the burden of the everyday world lightened by traveling to foreign shores, hiking through an old growth wood, sailing a calm sea, climbing a stony peak, camping under a starlit sky, or seeking escape through the words, photos, or brush strokes of others.
Maybe this is why I have such a hard time putting in words what my first experience in Scotland was to me. It was the lightening of the burden, and the recognition of something achingly beautiful. And from that grew friendships forged, memories made, promises to be kept.
So maybe that’s what I’ve been trying to say with these last few blogs. Maybe that’s what the Moment is. It’s experiencing the sublime. Just for a moment.