Awe, mountains and alien abduction

imageThere is something about mountains that is so heart-rendingly beautiful, they really make my heart ache, though I couldn’t say what it aches for.

Is that awe? Genuine wonder at the truly and literally awesome? I think it must be.

And mountains at night, especially from a private viewpoint: the feeling that no-one else is seeing this, is wonderful and sad. Because everyone should be seeing it, it’s just so gloriously beautiful! It should be shared, it’s too good for one person.

I had the viewpoint to myself, everyone else on the Mount Cook campsite seemingly going about their normal business, oblivious to the particular wonder of the mountains to the north, and the glacial river floodplain to the south, as the light fades. The different strands of rock reflect the disappearing light in different ways, the distant water silvers, the glacial ice glows. The unseen river rumbles on in its sunken bed. It is eye-wateringly beautiful.


imageI remembered this yesterday while watching an achingly beautiful sunset, with layers and layers of ever-changing colours stretching off across the valleys and plateaus of the Blue Mountains. The flat-topped mountains slowly faded into the night as the first stars appeared. The sun’s golden orange glow finally disappeared from the western horizon, leaving just a sense of the void in front of me, as the valley plunges down below the cliffs.

The difference is this time it felt like everyone was seeing it. The viewpoint on the bank holiday was overrun with coach loads of tourists and visitors, vying for space at the railings to take photos of each other and the sunset, jostling for room, largely oblivious to each other’s attempts except as a hindrance to their own. So of course I wanted them all to go away, no longer wanting to share the breathtaking beauty of the world!

I tried to be Zen and focus on the beautiful sunset and scenery and mentally fade out the babble, noise and frenzy. That worked a little. Then I imagined them all being abducted or vaporised by aliens and that helped more. I was able to imagine just me and the view alone, and smiled quietly to myself.

Clearly I am contradictory. When alone with the magic of a place I want everyone to see it; when sharing it with hundreds of people I have to work hard to hold on to that sense of wonder and awe, and find myself imagining the extermination of all surrounding humans in order to do so. I would like to share it only with those who savour that magical spark of the world in the same way as me. Which probably makes me horrendously judgemental, or a psychopath in the making.


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