Breakfast on board the Hurtigruten ship that goes from Bergen and all the way up to Kirkenes. There are things to see on the way, adventure activities on land, kissing huskies and dog sledding, flying over the snow and communing with the spirit of Odin in the Lofoten islands. All very good. But I’m reminded of a pledge I made some 2 years ago on the same Hurtigruten, when I decided that if I should ever get rich, I would buy the entire fleet and enforce a few rules. Starting with banishing all the yakking at breakfast. I listen to people talking over their coffee, all in a very assertive way, all being very formal and reverential. All about the kids’ schools, work and health, and the occasional love grief or frustration. No one is interested in the meaning of life, or the grand nothingness. We pass it ever so gracefully, though. The white Lyngen Alps stare us in the face silently and are inviting us to imitate them. Sit in silence and wonderment. But we don’t do it, of course not, and why should we? How could we? In this civilized world, it’s crucial that we yak at breakfast in a loud voice, as we need to remind ourselves of our mighty powers which we need to exercise as soon as we get out of the house to go to work, to school, or to seduce somebody. The meaning of life is called selling. We need to sell all that we’ve got: Our looks, our brains, our bodies, our souls, our dead ancestors, and our relatives. Everything is for sale, and the ones who can do it best are the ones considered successful. They are showered with rewards in the form of prizes, which then enable the winners to sell themselves some more – now by proxy, meaning that it won’t matter any more how brainy or empty-headed you might be, or how good looking. People will buy your stuff simply because you won a prize. It’s a good life.
Lunch is coming. Free buffet. The other rule that I would enforce if I had the fleet would be the ‘no ‘free’ lunches’ rule. No more eating. Only bread and water. If you want salt on the bread, you can lean over the railing on board and let your bread be splashed with sea-water. There would be retreat rooms instead of TV rooms. No soap operas. The only drama allowed would be the drama created in these silent rooms, where people can get to do yoga, meditate in zazen, and feel the pain of disciplining the body. All for nothing. My chief of staff in charge with the well-being of the tourists onboard will have one announcement only over the speakers: ‘good morning ladies and gentlemen, today we begin the day with selling nothing.’ ‘Guten morgen, meine Damen und Herren, heute Morgen fangen wir an Nichts zu verkaufen.’ ‘God morgen, mine damer og herrer, i dag starter vi dagen med at sælge ingenting.’
Dinner time. Everyone out on the deck. The full moon creates magic, Trollfjorden is not bewitching for nothing, even though the trolls are not interested in exchange rates and more selling. Here you get the magic all for free. By the time you hit the deep arctic, the only desire you will have left would be the desire to think of yourself as one without a self. As No One. You will come home empowered. Nothing will impress you anymore. You will be able to see through a lot of shit. You will wear masks all according to context and circumstance. You will have become a shape-shifter.