As a writer I want to be able to transform people, places and happenings into words that will weave an invisible, yet potent magic upon the reader. I want to transport the reader into a different time and place, and perhaps altogether different mindset. I want to describe feelings and sensations so accurately that the reader will feel them as a physical touch upon their skin. I want the reader to hear what I hear, see what I see and feel my every desire, dark and innocent alike. To convey human emotions across time and distance is an art, and a difficult one at that. Given how frustratingly it can be when words elude me, perhaps only the very privileged, crazy or naïve feel like embarking on such a mission.
Some feelings, sensations and experiences are almost impossible to translate into the written form. Because how do I describe standing in the middle of a slum in Africa, looking at small shambling shacks that are crumpled together and serve as people’s homes? How do I describe the rank smell that the crippling amounts of garbage laying in the streets give off? When the stench is so all-consuming it burns in my nose like acid. How do I describe seeing children so young they can barely walk, running around naked among goats and chickens, sitting down on their bare bums in the middle of the filthy dirty street?
How do I describe the overwhelming feeling of something close to shame that I should be fortunate to be born in a quiet suburban street in Norway where the lawns are always perfectly mowed and the hedges primly cut, when others are born into such squalor? How do I describe the insistent chant in my head that I can’t stand having to bear witness to it any longer? It physically hurts my eyes. How do I describe that I can’t stand the flies that rest upon my sweaty skin, the sun beating down my back? In such cases I get the despairing feeling that reading about life is a hell of a lot better than actually be forced to live it. At least I can go home and retreat into the pages of a different, less scary world. The people I leave behind don’t have that privilege.
Then there are times when the feeling of peace and ecstatic joy inside of me is so powerful it feels like my chest is about to burst. When I’m standing on a beach by the sea coast in Africa; how do I describe the feeling of the warm sand cuddling my bare feet? The comforting sound of the vast ocean crashing upon the shore? The magnificent view of a billion splendid stars scattered across the night sky? How do I describe these feelings and sensations? How do I translate into words the sound of African drums and singing beating in time with my heart? A large bonfire giving off just enough light to see the same happiness reflected in the eyes of your friends?
It’s those rare and oh so precious moments when I realize that at that exact moment in life I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, at any other time, in the whole world. Not even if you offered me a million bucks in cash. Those are the times when living life is a million times better then reading about it. No words in existence would be able to give justice to these memories. Not even a thousand words would be enough.