Recently, I met a man who was born and raised in a country with spectacular mountains. Now he has lived in a flat country for years; he is married and has a three-year old child. For nearly a decade, he has not gone back to his mountains.
Instead, he has taken up rock climbing and even produced a documentary film about this hobby of his. He wants to show his child how the world looks like from the top of a mountain, but most of the time this quest ends up at hilltops. Being on flat land, according to him, makes him suffer from “small world syndrome”, which for him means that he is not able to see the vastness of the Earth around him. Instead, he only sees a couple of city blocks or a few kilometers of flat plains or woods. This makes him uncomfortable, maybe even anxious.
I cannot understand this “small world” feeling as such. I have been to mountaintops and have enjoyed it. It is nothing, however, that I would obsess about. However, I come from a country of lakes and forests. I get a feeling close to a religious experience sitting on a porch by a lake. The surrounding dry forests, capable of supporting only stubborn moss, lichen and a bunch of tough trees, are what I consider homely.
In the Nordic countries, we see a great many German tourists. This despite of the outrageous Scandinavian prices. (A pint may honestly cost around 9 euros). What are the Germans doing here? Surely they don’t come for the beer. They come because they have cut down their trees. They come here, because the trees, woods, cuckoos, clean rivers are still part of the German soul landscape.
Think about it, do you have a special relationship to the kind of flora and fauna where you grew up? Other places, however pretty they may be, cannot really conjure up the same feeling. All the smells, sounds, sights.