The real thing

The real thing
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Text and photographs by
Sigrid Thorbjørnsen.
Translated and edited by
Michael Holtermann and Kenneth Kiesnoski. 

I feel the wind take hold of my hair, the rain whipping my face. I’m sliding around on smooth, round stones while trying to keep my balance. To not fall onto the stones and be soaked by the salt water that washes in from the sea.

But nature has set out traps for me. Seaweed on the rolling stones makes them slippery, and moss between them, soaked, hides small underground puddles of water. All items on the ground seem to have joined forces to topple me over, conspiring with the wind. It is a day of bad weather in this area. An ordinary day.

Kvassheim Lighthouse was built in 1912. With Obrestad and Feistein, these three lighthouses ensured secure passage for all ships sailing along the Jæren coast, and still do to this day. The sea just off the pebbly beaches is full of reefs, strong currents, huge winds, and capricious weather. In 1990 the lighthouse was automated, and today it is also a recreational facility, where it is possible to stay overnight, enjoy nature, and experience unique birdlife.

It’s February but the temperature is above freezing and the snow is gone. The persistent wind blows away some of the cloud cover, taking all worries with them. I’m not even sure what I had been so anxious about. Thoughts have a tendency to pile on top of each other when one is indoors, able to hear them. But out in this wind, they do not last long. They blow away. The important thoughts will remain when I get back inside. The rest of them are erased by the wind. The unimportant ones.

I have more than enough to do just trying to keep my balance. I look out towards the horizon and see that there is more rain to come. But right now, the sun has spared a pair of sun rays, and I feel a strange warmth. A summer-like heat. It’s so long since I felt the summer. I know that summer is not yet around the corner, but it is as if the sun gives me a promise that summer is coming, this year too.

With my face towards the sun and wind, new valuable thoughts pop out of the sea. With the most important values. The ones that cannot be bought for money. Such thoughts often come when one has little in the purse. But thoughts are equally important when your wallet is filled. The thoughts of all that is real.

The Norwegian author Arne Garborg (1851–1924) wrote the quote:

It is said that money you can garden everything, but you can not.
You can buy food, but not appetite;
medicine, but not health;
knowledge, but not wisdom;
glitter, but not beauty;
fun, but not joy;
acquaintances, but not friends;
basin, but not faithfulness;
leisure, but not peace.
You can have the husk of everything for money, but not the kernel.”

With Arne Garborg’s words, I understand that what is real does not change. The values are the same today as a century ago.

The wind still wants to blow me over, the resurgent rain again whips my face, and my clothes are now wet, yet I realize that I am enriched. The gales have blown away the petty concerns. The swell and the waves make so much noise that I hear no clear words. I fight my way out over the rolling stones, keep myself on my feet, and glance out to sea again, just to assure myself that even if I leave, this stretch of magic landscape remains. The waves, the rocks, and the winds.

It is a day of bad weather. An ordinary day.

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