Memory is truly an unfortunate thing. It chronicles our entire life, forms our reality of the past, and defines who we are and where we’ve been, and yet it’s so elusive. It’s transience, it’s lack of definite form, and its subjectivity are all catalysts to a degradation from which we can barely retrieve anything with any veracity; we are instead forced to piece together obtuse, unfitting pieces, warp truth into a conceivable form, and even, in only the greatest desperation, synthesize new memories from nothing but a meaningless mass of assumptions and hypotheses. It is from such ambiguity that I have constructed this account.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
While the return to my young childhood home of Switzerland was only about four years ago, a complete recollection is impossible. This is the cruelty of time, that sadistic tormenter that converts experience into vague shadows of the past. But through the veil of time I can still feel a shimmer of light. I use the term “feel” because this light is not as much an explicit memory as it is an implicit feeling—an emotion. This light is what it felt like to wake up in the morning to the cool sun, look out the window, and behold the immense, majestic wonders of the Swiss Alps. It touches me just to think about, and in my daily life I often work hard to draw forth this magical sense of balance and peace from my unconscious memory and assimilate it back into my life once more.
My family and I (that is, my brother and my parents) spent our evenings in a cozy hostel in the small town of Grindelwald, Hotel Lauberhorn, but by day we were thrust into the almost paradoxical juxtaposition of nature that defines much of Switzerland–a place where lush greenery quickly converges into a pure, wintry bed of snow on the mountaintops. In the crucible of the valley lay summer, while on the edges lay winter. It was absolute beauty in truest form, a place where all the seasons and all the elements of the natural world seemed to converge into one finite paradise. I remember that there was a cable-driven lift that carried us between the worlds of winter and summer, and I remember the laughs that my family shared as we ascended to the heavens in delight and wonder at what was to come before us. Then we began our hike along the sculpted edges of the valley, taking the crisp, untainted air into our lungs and filling our hearts and minds with the feeling of true harmony.
This place, this home away from home, this secluded paradise upon an imperfect world gave me a sense of belonging in the universe that I never wanted to forget. The sight of the summer snow shining like a sea of diamonds in the sunlight is a wonder to behold, and is one of the many bursts of vivid memory that still cling to me today.
I think it’s a shame for someone to pass on to the next life without forming some of his or her own memories of Switzerland. It’s like skipping the middle step—going from Earth to paradise without experiencing paradise on Earth. Switzerland will forever be a part of my memory, and no matter how vain the search may be for recollection of explicit experience, the feeling that Switzerland stirred within my heart and soul will forever live on as a part of me.
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