During these autumn days, I like to take walks in the forest, at a time when the sun, already low on the horizon, sends oblique rays through the tall trees. My favorite place is a high alder forest. The trees raise their dark grey trunks above the green fronds of large eagle ferns, larger than a man, as my feet sink a little into the damp peat. It is a mysterious atmosphere of springs, ponds and deep forest. I like to take pictures of these places. Often, in the photos, orbs appear, looking like fairies dancing in the rays of golden light. It is as if I feel called by these rays, called into another universe, called into a golden universe that I glimpse, beyond the dark forest.
One evening, returning from a long walk, by a strange synchronicity, a musician friend of mine sent me an invitation to the concert of an electro-pop musical duo called Komorebi1. The two musicians intended to illustrate, in a concert that was to last a whole night, an “untranslatable journey”. The sensation of being a stranger on earth, called by another universe. The word Komorebi illustrated perfectly this feeling, according to them. This Japanese word does not have an exact translation in the English language. Komorebi literally means “the light that passes between the leaves of the trees”, and more precisely, the light that deafens, like water from a spring finds its way out of the earth. In the Japanese language2, this kanji expresses nostalgia, the emotion of the loss of a loved one, the presence of a place or an inner state seeking to manifest itself. It is the nostalgic state of what I love that is far away, out of reach and yet visible, just like the oblique light of the sun through the leaves.
I remember, when I was still a very young child, maybe 2 or 3 years old, I had a very strong feeling that I was not human. It seemed to me that I came from a distant galaxy, from another planet, and, in any case, that I was absolutely not one of the inhabitants of the earth. I had a very strong feeling that, the day I wanted to do so with sufficient intensity, I would fly away to leave this planet which seemed to me to be completely inhospitable and unsuitable for human life. And, one day, I must have been probably between 3 and 4 years old, I have this very precise memory of saying goodbye to my mother, as we were on our way to the park, then running with all the speed of my little legs, spreading my arms, and, I thought, rising majestically in the air to find my true homeland.
The reality of what followed was quite predictable, and much later my mother told me that she really didn’t understand why, when I was two or three years old, I used to run ahead of her, and fall forward, as if I was sucked up by something invisible. She told me that she was afraid I might have balance problems and she had me see a pediatrician. The doctor, wearing a white coat and a beard, had a reassuringly calm voice and promised her that “it would pass”.
My desire to escape diminished a notch and from that moment on, I pictured myself entering this world which was my true homeland when I climbed the two or three steps of the stepladder in the kitchen… Then, going down another notch, I had to face the facts: I was in this world to stay for a long time, so it was better to be patient.
More than 50 years later, I still feel this feeling of being a stranger in the world, this unquenchable nostalgia for not being part of this planet, especially when I see the rays of light dancing between the leaves of the trees.
In the evening, just before the sun sets, it is not just the rays of twilight that I see, it is the golden glow of an enchanted world, the wonderful world that is my true home. At this particular moment, the veil that separates the dull, grey reality of each day rises. With every ray, with every movement and with every glitter between the leaves of the trees, I see the world that awaits me. The rays of nostalgia, Komorebi, show me the way.
The next time you, reader, walk at dusk in a forest, pay attention to the rays of light, because they carry the message of nostalgia for another universe.