I have been thinking a lot lately about Uemura Naomi.
Uemura is considered the first person to reach the North Pole by himself, to raft down the Amazon by himself, and to climb Denali by himself.
He was part of a community of adventurers, of climbers, but he did many of his excursions alone. He wrote, in what’s become his most famous quote: “In all the splendor of solitude… it is a test of myself, and one thing I loathe is to have to test myself in front of other people.”
Uemura disappeared in 1984 while climbing Denali in the winter. We know he reached the summit, but his radio signal was lost on the descent. Normally a search party would have been sent sooner, but the community of climbers who knew him felt it would be disrespectful to do so. His body has never been found.
 The thing is, no one knows. When it comes down to it, no one knows anything and everything that points to the contrary is all a ruse.
I read this fantasy series – The Wheel of Time – and ever since I started reading it as a teenager, I’ve found myself wanting to be in that world. It’s probably more a tribute to likable characters than anything else, but the fact that I would rather be in a situation where the end of the world is immanent than here surely says something about me. When faced with the fate of the world, none of the characters gives up. Sometimes they make stupid choices, but they never choose not to act.
They never really stagnate.
I think maybe this is why I read fiction. When you read a good story, you get absorbed in the world; more specifically, you get absorbed in a world already full of meaning. You don’t have to make it for yourself. Meaning is already included, told to you by the author, and in a good piece of fiction, you accept it.