Travel, FeaturesDuke FORMtravel

Elevation

Travel, FeaturesDuke FORMtravel
Elevation

You stand atop a summit, overlooking what lies below. The air is thinner up here, and the strain on your lungs results from both the point of elevation and the journey to reach it. But somehow, it’s also easier to breathe, above it all. Everything is so much clearer from these heights.

The French have a saying, a concept not yet specified in the English language, but nevertheless universal: l’appel du vide, which translates to “the call of the void.” It can refer to the urge to commit unreasonable actions, but in the world of outdoor landscapes, I take it to be the ineffable surge of appreciation after hiking to a summit, scrambling over rocks to a ledge, arriving at a peak. Casting my gaze down on a wide-angle perspective of lower grounds, I remove myself from personal association. The gap between reality and interpretation widens.

Is this what the birds see? What it feels like to soar? Everyday concerns suddenly feel so trivial, here where I can see everything at once, where I am untouchable by the finite construct of time. L’appel du vide speaks my name and sends me into euphoric vertigo.

Maybe it’s not the call of the void, but a call to reflect, to step up, and to look back down.

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY MINDY WU