I have poked around the concept of surrealism quite a bit lately. It surges into the fore of my mind quite frequently, especially when I look up from the cycle path to see something like this:

Rhine Valley, Germany

Or looking out the window while the train swings past this:

Interlaken, Switzerland

It feels impossible that people actually lead normal lives in places that exist on the edges of our dreams. What’s more, finally reaching them in real life just feels absurd. How could it be that so many factors have lined up, just so, to bring someone like me rolling through? How can a place take your breath away every time you step outside?

Or open your window, for that matter
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Being alone most of the time seems to amplify this sensation, especially as I’ve been exploring the Lauterbrunnen valley. Apart from the improbability of my reaching this point, some moments feel rather strange when experiencing or reflecting upon them out of the context of the grand scheme of things.

I’ve realized since my last post about solitude that there are different kinds. There’s the sense of being alone with people around (also surreal in a unique way), and then here I’ve discovered being truly apart from people. On my hikes into the mountains towering above this town, I didn’t see another human for hours. Instead of the barrage of noise I’m accustomed to in cities, every sound reached me individually. My feet crunched the gravel, birds sang in the trees and raindrops softly patted the leaves. In the distance, the bells of feasting cows and goats tinkled like wind chimes and the rush of the valley’s numerous waterfalls provided a quiet white noise.

Nothing else.

It was meditative, but also eerie. As I looked down from the ridge the landscape felt frozen, painted. I was suspended in this unreal space. With only myself around, it was hard to grasp I was actually there.

It’s like a green screen
And snow in May? No way.

When I do hike past life, it’s usually a herd of cows (though sometimes goats or sheep). Without fail, they make me feel like I’m in some strange version of Inception, as they all stop and stare at me with unnerving unison. Their clanging bells fall silent, and so does the rest of the valley. Much like in the movie, the subconscious (I’m not sure whose) becomes aware of something out of place.

Sheep, too

Though I’m writing this in the context of Lauterbrunnen, most of the trip has felt surreal in one way or another. Even the most mundane of experiences can seem odd. Of course, these unreal sensations wouldn’t be as strong if I were used to them. Maybe the cows wouldn’t even stare if they knew me. In the end, though, this has become one of those experiences I never could have accounted for. It’s a great perspective for exploring the major parts of our lives as well as those little moments that might otherwise seem insignificant.

Like being stopped by a cow train

2 thoughts on “Surrealism”

  1. When I wake up in the morning, stumble upstairs to make coffee, then look out the window to see a snowy mountain vista with bald eagles, I feel the exact same way. For me, it's odd to see life just going on as usual in places like this. More than once, I've felt like I must be in some Truman Show-like reality, with a giant backdrop just hanging from an invisible ceiling.


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