‘The line or circle that forms the apparent boundary between Earth and sky’ or ‘the limit or range of perception, knowledge, or the like’ are two definitions of what the Horizon can mean according to a random dictionary. I think that the second one – that it is the limit of knowledge – is the most thought-provoking and interesting way of describing it, for it is literally and physically that; we cannot see beyond the horizon and what we cannot see we cannot know.
What I am particularly curious about is the human reaction to seeing the horizon – what we instinctively feel within us when we see that pale pastel-blue line of land in the far distance. I feel it often, standing on a hill or anywhere were one can see further than a few miles; a yearning or wistfulness that is faint and quickly lost if distracted, I sense an urge to go to that unknown distant hill; to walk the woods and fields between here and there. Yet it is about more than just that thin line; it is the land before it and the land beyond it which seems to touch the innate desire to explore and gain knowledge that I think all humans have within them.
On top of a hill we would have a horizon in every direction (and it would stretch much farther) which is perhaps why we have a fondness for hills. I have noticed this; that towns and villages are often at the base of or on top of a hill, Iron-age forts are always on the peaks of the highest hills too, is it perhaps the security that a hill gives – for its defensive position or its inherent strength and majesty, or is it the view of a horizon that it gives us? Living in a lowland town that has no view beyond the next street I often find myself bewitched by the slightest view of a nearby hill, seen through a rare gap in the buildings. The sight of a part of the landscape beyond the land I am immediately in is mesmerizing, and I regularly think that when I own a house it should have a good view – for I am deprived of one at present.
But why do I (and I suspect I am not alone in this) feel such unexplainable urges and deep-rooted feelings upon seeing a horizon or distant hill? I theorize that it has something to do with discovery and exploration – which is what propelled our species across the Earth, or maybe it is much simpler and is merely my brain responding positively to views of a green countryside (as it has been scientifically proven that contact with nature is greatly beneficial to our well-being). Or it could just be me, wanting to travel slowly through the beautiful land that I live in; wondering what hidden natural beauty and tiny rural villages lie in the land spread out before me. But then again, I think it is deeper than that, perhaps it will never be explained, perhaps we all feel it but don’t notice or don’t care – perhaps this whole post has got a bit dull, either way, I know that I will always feel euphoric upon gazing out at a distant tree-lined horizon.