Reflections by a Lake – Luzern, Switzerland

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I woke up early on Sunday because I wanted to do something different than Wadenswil. I headed to the station and hopped on the fast train to Luzern. When I arrived I headed to old town. I only had a few hours and I wasn’t really sure where to go, so I started walking until I came to the lake and the bridge that leads to old town.

The old town and lake sits right under Mt. Pilatus. Legend has it that the mountain was once the birthplace of giants and a giant dragon with healing powers lived on the peak. Later on it was said that Pontus Pilate, who was said to be buried somewhere on the mountain, used to wander and haunt the lake and city of Luzern until he was banished in the 1500s by a priest and group of townspeople who climbed the mountain to challenge him. All kinds of strange sightings would occur, but soon the dragon disappeared and the ghost found his final peace and Luzern became a sleepy lake town and old town became a booming commerce and eventual tourist attraction. It was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen: the water was crystal blue with swans gliding gracefully under the bridges and the sun was shining over the mountains and reflecting the scenery into the lake like some magic oracle.

I spent a while just walking around, and then decided to head to “Lowendenkmal,” the lion monument that commemorates the Swiss soldiers who died defending the king when then French invaded switzerland. Hedi told me the Swiss people make fun of that statue and it’s not worth the time, but I wanted to see it because Mark Twain called it the “most moving rock he’d ever seen.” I found it on my map and headed towards it but I came to a locked fence. I thought maybe I had come the wrong way, but I really wanted to see it so I decided to just jump it. After a few minutes I was super confused because my map said I was right there, but I couldn’t find it. I didn’t mind though, because I had an awesome view overlooking the whole city so I thought it was still worth it.

The world’s a weird place to be human. We have such a fantasy of what it’s like outside the bubble we make for ourselves and then create this idea that’s supposedly beyond the realm of reality only to find when we emerge that the doubt we had to save us from the potential of disappointment was really just the face of our insecurities and lack of confidence in our intuition. With each new discovery and experience lived we welcome a new truth to our reason only to find that with every affirmation comes a new set of wonders, what ifs, and unexamined potentiality. By this we are forced into our most primitive instincts, the ones that require an acknowledgement of our physical boundaries that do not control our conscious realities, and we make our leaps of faith. When a person writes a novel they say that each place, person, and action is a reflection of their soul. This makes sense to me. The world is an amazing story.

That’s what I was thinking about when the Swiss police showed up. They wanted to know how I got up there and did not think it was funny when I said I jumped. Turns out I was at the lion monument… Well, actually I was on top of it. Way to go maps. The Swiss police showed me down and I sheepishly apologized for jumping the fence and walked around to the face of the monument. I stared at it for a while, but I didn’t feel the way I thought I would after reading Mark Twain’s account. Maybe it was the adrenaline of almost being arrested, but I felt underwhelmed. The lion was sad, but I would never say it was the “most moving rock I’d ever seen.” It was just art to me with no other particular meaning.

But the city itself was much more moving. The city made me think, and I like when places make me think and light up my imagination. When we were in Zurich Hedi taught me to recognize movement in paintings by noticing where my eyes move when I look at it. This is the same for places. As I oriented myself into the city I allowed my mind to wander where it wanted to and tried to consciously notice those places as well.

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In 2009 I fell in love for the first time. The left corner of the painting moves around chaos until settling into a beautiful lake under a mountain full of magic and legend and potential and bringing us to the center right bottom with a New Years kiss and white pillows and a poem that is always stuck in my head.

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

–ee cummins

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