Thirty years ago, I shared an apartment with my younger brother Thomas in Lausanne. Of the trips that we did together to places nearby, I particularly remember one by car to the Lac de Joux. The area around it looked sort of moon-like, lots of stones, it radiated the aura of a windswept, rugged terrain. Now imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, I revisited the place and it didn't in the least resemble my memory.
Don't get me wrong: I liked what I saw yet started to wonder what strange tricks my mind seemed to have played on me. Was it maybe another lake and I had simply mistaken it? I've decided to explore the surroundings of Le Pont, where I had gotten off the train, and discovered another nice lake, Lac Brenet, that had absolutely nothing in common with what had been on my mind for all these years.
And so I did what one does in the days of the internet and googled the lakes of the Canton de Vaud – yet there weren't any pictures of a lake that looked even remotely close to the pictures in my head. Had I been dreaming? And if so, for thirty years? Possibly but it doesn't feel right, it feels truly weird. And then my friend Peggy said the windswept, rugged terrain that I occasionally had talked about had always reminded her of Lac de Bret near Puidoux that she knew from visits with her parents – the restaurant shown on the internet looked indeed similar to the one I've always remembered but everything else was much too green. Maybe I should once visit in winter?
It is of course one thing to say that memory is creative, it is however quite another to experience it the way I did while in Le Pont. Disturbing? Definitely! Fascinating? Sure – but above all pretty irritating. Given all these uncertainties in regards to the past (and, needless to say, the future), we're probably well advised to concentrate on the present.