“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths…”

This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

view from Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam, 2012

“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, 2012

For many years I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never  go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains. ‘Longing,’ says the poet Robert Hass, ‘because desire is full of endless distances.’ Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world.”

Fishtail Nepal

View of Machapuchare, Nepal, 2012

Rebecca Solnit

from A Field Guide to Getting Lost

If you’d like to read the whole essay, you can find it here: “The Blue of Distance”

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