I’d been driving for a few hours when I reached the lake. I hadn’t intended to stop other than for a few minutes to snap a photo or two of Mt Cook in the distance. I pulled off the highway and found a little carpark close to the water. There was a patch of grass under some pine trees with a view of the mountains in the distance. It was too peaceful not to stay awhile. I sprawled out in the grass and listened to the quiet. Birds talked, a subtle wind graced the pines, and the lake seemed to sparkle from the sunlight. Contentedly lying in the grass, childhood memories knocked at the back of my conscience. I was on the opposite side of the world, visiting a country I had never been to, immersed in this foreign landscape for the first time, yet somehow it felt familiar.
It is quite intriguing that certain smells, or sounds, or landscapes can trigger memories. Even more intriguing to me is how they can also trigger memories or feelings of a place or time I haven’t experienced. For example, when I’m hiking along a mountain trail or gazing on an untouched coastline I often feel as though I’m being reminded of somewhere, even though I may never have been there before. It seems to trigger a hidden desire for a place I want to be. No matter how much I try, the desire never does get satisfied. I don’t claim to know the reason why, but I think CS Lewis may have been close when he said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.”