In my walks there is something that never fails to surprise me. When in certain landscapes, an odd emotion invades me, an impossible combination of fear and security that connects me in a powerful way to something that is both abstract and familiar. It could last just a few seconds, but its paradoxical character has a staggering impact on me, leaving me dazed and confused. I end up being shifted for a moment, leaving myself, feeling strange. It sounds rather awful, but in fact it feels pretty good and leaves me with an agreeable sensation. I would dare to say it is even addictive, inasmuch as it is something I deliberately seek out.
There are certain places where humans have always felt fascination, doubt and fear all at once: on the ocean, near volcanoes, in the mountains, in a forest or the desert. Places that are inhospitable, mysterious and unfathomable that remind you of death; they humble you with their breadth and immensity. They put you in your place, reminding you of your fleetingly precarious existence. At the same time, however, they enable you to discover the richness of getting lost in the whole, the pleasure of the sublime. Clearly some of this is going on when we see a beautiful sunset or look down on the earth from a mountain peak. In these moments, something makes you transcend the mediocrity and banality of daily life, reconnecting you to nature and the cosmos. This seems rather mystic, and it is, though I am sure we have all felt something similar one time or another. This is what is so great about it. It is not an exclusive feeling, set aside for the few. The sublime is a democratic concept (despite democracies not being overly sublime).