There was a time by Rune Belsvik

There was a time when I thought that I ought to go out and save the world. I knew that the world was somewhere else, a place out there from which the journalists sent their reports. It seemed to me in those days that the world was a sick place filled with evil and injustice.

But I forgot about all that one day when a girl with sunlight in her hair walked across the schoolyard. I forgot about everything that day because of her, and my schoolwork meant nothing to me any more. I only hoped that some day we would have a lesson about what had happened, but we never had that lesson.

One evening I was out walking under an umbrella with that same girl. If we only had been out there in the world, I thought, this moment would have had a deeper meaning. Surely, love would have found the right words, and I never would have fumbled the way I did, trying to undo her buttons.

But we were not out there in the world. We were on a small island called Stord on the west coast of Norway. We were on the outskirts of the world, in a place where life’s great possibilities would never appear.
And so I left the girl and I left Stord and travelled far away, and there were times when I had the feeling that I was gaining on the world. But I still encountered people who got me into those amateurish situations I already knew so well; hopeless discussions about God and politics, idiotic parties, which started out well, but always ended in sentimentality and a fumbling for words. Stuttering walks under an umbrella. Diarrhea. A foul taste in the mouth.

I hesitated for a long time before I finally began meditation. I didn’t want to think that I had copped out. In my mind, I was still the man who was going to save the world.

But afterwards, I moved in with my meditation sound. A little shamefully, I closed my eyes, and admitted to myself that I wanted a small apartment all alone in there, a small quiet space near the soul. Well, the light’s not very good, and it’s never exactly clean in there, and the heat comes on and goes off at will, and pictures long forgotten fall off the wall when the winds blow through. But in recent years, I have at times gone there and turned the world off. I have pulled out the television plug and just let the newspapers lie.

And somehow, unexpectedly, I have felt as if the world were coming closer. As if any day now, it might arrive and announce that it is here. That this is the way it is, that it’s finally come and cannot be postponed.

From Acem International Newsletter no 1 2001

Rune Belsvik is the author of several plays, novels, and children’s books in Norwegian; some of his works have been translated and are now available in English and German.


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