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Plans change, we dance

There is this strange small music festival I discovered some five years ago, and since then I've been there every summer. It was mid-April when I heard that they had booked Litku Klemetti. I couldn't believe my luck - my favourite band performing on my favourite festival! So I had one fixed plan for the summer. Another plan appeared a few weeks after I had bought the ticket to that music festival - I got invited to my friends' wedding. No doubt, I wanted to attend the wedding, but the only problem was that it was on the same day as Litku's gig on that festival. That asked for some more detailed planning; it would be something like one hour and twenty minutes by car from the festival to the place where the wedding will take place. Luckily enough, Litku was scheduled to play at 8pm. So I had a plan; go to the festival for Friday, then in the night (or, early in the morning) drive to the wedding ceremony, then drive back to the festival to see Litku's gig, and then drive back to dance at the wedding party. In my mind I called this plan the super weekend of my summer, the high point I was eagerly looking forward to.

Well, then there are little techical details. Like the Finnish Law requiring every car being officially inspected once a year. Every car has a deadline for the inspection, and I somehow assumed that for my car the deadline is somewhere towards the end of summer, just like it was on my previous car. Before my super weeked I checked the papers of the car and realized that the inspection deadline was already on 6th of June. Which means that if I'm stopped by police I'll be fined for driving an unispected vehicle, and they'll only allow me to drive to somewhere safe to park my car. I didn't want to take the risk of being stopped somewhere away from home, in the middle of the night driving from the festival to the wedding (and then missing both the wedding and Litku's gig, simply because I've failed to get my car inspected in time). I suspected my car won't pass the inspecion just like that, so I first booked a time to a local garage so that they'd perform some routine maintenance and check the condition of the exhaust system. I got a time for Wednesday, planning to have the car inspected on Thursday.

Unluckily, the repair man at the garage said that there is a leak in the exhaust system. And that the leak is so located that it won't be easy to fix - a spare part will be expensive, and they could only do that at the end of July. Oh well. So I started to plan if I could manage my weekend without a car. I didn't want to borrow a car, for I knew that would be an emotional stress factor for me, being worried that something breaks down when I'm driving a borrowed car in the middle of the night somewhere in the Finnish countryside, and then it will cost a lot of money to get the situation sorted out... But what about a bicycle? Google estimated it would take about four hours to cycle from my home to the festival. The more I looked at the map, comparing different possible routes, the more I started to like the idea. That would be an adventure! But then I'd sure miss the wedding, for it would take another four hours to cycle from the festival to the place where the wedding is. That made me feel slightly sad, and I was pondering my options. Hey Erkka, really, is some little music festival more important than your friends' wedding? On the same weekend there is going to be a bigger festival at Tampere, and Litku will perform there on Friday - so one option would be to skip that little festival, take a train to Tampere to see Litku, and from there it could be possible to get to the wedding by public transport. But then, again, there is some strange charm on that little music festival I couldn't explain to myself. So I decided to stick with the plan to go to the festival and just accept the unfortunate fact that I won't attend the wedding because of car problems.

Anyway, at the garage they said that it would be probably wiser if I bought a cheap spare part which needs to be welded to fit the rest of the exhaust system. So I called my friend who is some sort of a wizard when it comes to welding and fixing cars. He said he can take a look at the car on Thursday. He did his patching magic. And not only that - he also spotted a problem with the hand brake, but got that fixed too. I managed to get a car inspection time for Friday morning - so back to the original plan of my super weekend of road-tripping by car! On Friday morning I drove to the inspection, and was relieved to see that both the exhaust system and the brakes passed without any problem. But then, the last part of the inspection was about the support structures and joints related to steering - and the inspector found one joint badly damaged. Which means that my car failed to pass the inspection. That wouldn't have been a problem if the inspection had taken place before the deadline - in that case I would'be been given one month time to get that joint fixed. So, to be exact, it was my own forgetfulness which causes this problem. Now it was past the deadline, and the inspector gently explained it means that I'm only allowed drive back to my home, then to a garage to get the joint fixed, and then back to the inspection. If the police would stop me anywhere else I'll be fined, and probably the officers would require me to park the car and get it towed to a garage - or some other costy and problematic thing. (In Finland the risk is somewhat real, as many patrol cars are fitted with equipment automatically scanning license plates and checking them against the database. Basically, they can automatically spot vehicles which have been reported stolen. Or un-inspected.)

After the failed car inspection I drove back home, once again all the different options running in my mind. Changing plans, changing plans. I was back at home at twelve o'clock. A train to Orivesi leaves from Vilppula at 12:45, and it usually takes me about 45 minutes to cycle to the village centre. Not thinking too much I parked the car, grabbed the backpack I had packed beforehand, hopped on my bike and went on cycling towards the Vilppula railway station. I got there at 12:35, bought a ticket and boarded the train. That saved me some 40 km of cycling. And, I had realized that my bike isn't in a perfect condition for I haven't been using it so much. I don't remember when is the last time I did the basic maintenance for the bike. And the rear tyre had a tiny fracture on the side - if the fracture gets bigger the inner tube will get exposed, quicly leading to a flat tyre. But because of all the car trouble I had not paid that much attention to preparing the bike for a possible journey. So there I was, travelling with a bicycle but without any basic tools. I hadn't packed even a hand pump to fill up the tyres.

I was at the Orivesi station at 13:20, and the festival would start at 18. I estimated it would be about one hour to cycle from the station to the festival, so I had plenty of time. I did some shopping and went on cycling. I didn't get far from the station when a police patrol car drove past me. That made me smile, and I was happy that I was driving my bicycle instead of my un-inspected car. After a few kilometres of cycling I was rather happy with my decision. The weather was fine, I enjoyed the scenery and all the scents of the summer. Some five or six kilometres before the festival place I decided to make a ten kilometres detour to get to a beautiful lake-side place I've visited on my earlier festival trips. I had thought that it would be slightly boring to drive the routes I'm familiar with, now when I'm cycling instead of driving a car. But on the contrary I found it rather pleasant; it didn't feel too slow, I always got to the next familiar landmark way faster that I had anticipated - yet I had time to marvel at so many details you ignore when driving a car. All those little decorations people had put on their yards. The way how the scents change as you pass fields and forests. Birds chirping and sparrows flying. And soon I was at the lakeside place. I started a fire, cooked some food and went for a refreshing swim while the food simmered. Just when I started to eat it started to rain. I ate and cooked a little of coffee and rested for a while. The rain ceased and I resumed my journey. When I was merely a few kilometres away from the festival place it started to rain heavily, and I heard thunder rumbling in the clouds. Well, but it was warm so rain wasn't that much of a problem, and I thought to myself that soon I'll be at the festival place and there is good music (and hot coffee). Luckily, the rain eased as I arrived at the festival place.

The bands started playing. I went dancing. As I might have said in some of my earlier post, it is exactly this strange little music festival which has become a sort of a pilgrimage for me. It is here where I have re-discovered the freedom and joy of dancing, shaking away a lot of the burden of depression and anxiety. Learning not to worry about what others might thinkg of me, just letting it go, not thinking how my dancing looks like but only enjoying how it feels like. And so I danced, again this year, finding myself more relaxed and joyful than some earlier years. The first band was called Sanansaattajat (I can't find the right one on Youtube). Then it was Relax Trio playing rockabilly, Faarao Pirttikangas ja Kuhmalahden Nubialaiset doing their unique mix of folk-blues-jazz, and Huora playing punk.

There were occasional light rain showers, which didn't affect the dancing. But at some point I was thinking if I should plan where to spend my night. I had packed a hammock, and I took a little look if there'd be a good place to set up a hammock - hoping that it won't rain in the night. Another option would be to talk with the locals; maybe some kind soul would allow me to sleep on their sofa or something - but, you know me, I'm still somewhat introvert and don't initiate discussions that easily. Also, always when going to sleep and waking up I feel myself somehow rather fragile and vulnerable - I have noticed I often prefer to sleep alone a bit away from other people as I feel safer that way. But I told myself not to worry about that, for now I was on an adventure - dancing to the plans changing, instead of just following a strict ready-made script. Before the last band I sat at a table sipping coffee. Some local people, a nice couple bit older than me, started talking with me. They had noticed I arrived by a bicycle, and they asked about my plans. The discussion went something like this;

- And where are you going to sleep for the night?
- I don't know. I have a hammock, but after all the rain the foliage is wet and soon it will be dark. Maybe I should overcome my shyness and start talking with the local people asking if there is any hay barn or something where I could sleep.
- You can sleep at our sauna cabin. (The man offers his hand and we shake hands to affirm the deal.)

The discussion flows on easily and naturally, we discuss the countryside hospitality, we praise the guy organizing the festival, we chat this and that, we spend a good while examining a map as they give me detailed instructions how to find their cabin, and more of their neighbours arrive and they tell jokes and everyone is happy.

As the last band plays their energetic punk it rains a little. I get all wet dancing wildly in the rain, and I enjoy that, I'm happy about all the warm friendly smiles shared with the other people dancing. When the band is finished with their gig it is 1:30 am. At this time of the year at my latitude it means that there is something like darkness of the night. Yet, following the instructions I can see enough to read a signpost, and I walk down a quiet dirt road in the woods. A few times the road forks, different routes taking to neighbouring cabins. I'm happy that we secured the instructions in minute detail, as I certainly won't enjoy accidentally entering a stranger's cabin in the middle of the night. So I find the sauna cabin which matches the description, I find the key hidden where they said it would be, and I settle down for the night in the peace and solitude of the cabin.

In the morning I start a small fire at their fire-ring, I scoop lake water to cook coffee and leave it to boil while I swim. After the morning swim I sat on the balcony of the cabin, enjoying some food and the coffee, and the good old countryside hospitality. Like, instead of being treated as a suspicious long-haired hippie hobo stranger, they instantly treated me as a fellow human being well worth their trust and hospitality. This is the way I love it, and this kind of experiences help me to grow less reserved in presence of other people. For a moment I thought about my plans for the day, pondering if I could find a way to get to Vesilahti where the wedding party will be. But I couldn't figure out a plausible way to get there, for we were away from any public transport. I told myself not to plan too much. Then I decided to go see a nearby nature conservation area before today's bands. Just as I was leaving the couple with their family came to the sauna cabin, so that I had an opportunity to thank them so much. They told me that near the conservation area there is a tower, and years ago there was a man living in a house next to the tower. That man had a job of sitting in the tower and watching for signs of forest fires and to raise an alarm if he spotted one. I cycled to see the tower, enjoying all the scenery and the peaceful atmosphere of the conservation area. The tower had a sign "Climb at your own risk. Private property". The nearby old house seemed empty but not completely abandoned, and I thought to myself how great it is that someone owns and takes care of places like these. I started climbing up the tower to see the view, but I didn't make it up to the hut at the top, for I remembered that I have a mild acrophobia, and I started to feel unsure as I started to get near the level of the treetops. Well, but I made it high enough to see a wide open view; forests stretching to the distance, here and there dotted with the shimmering of lakes, just the way Finland looks like. And dark thunder-brewing clouds here and there in every direction.

As I was cycling back towards the festival place my mind presented me an unpleasant scenario; the weather forecast said that for the rest of the day there will be high probability of thunder storms, and I had seen that myself, too. In the countryside thunder is something to be taken seriously; especially with all the electric equipment on the festival stage, a direct hit of a thunderbolt would be outright dangerous. What if it will be heavy rain and severe thunder? Maybe all the bands will be cancelled? Or maybe just Litku's gig needs to be cancelled because of a sudden thunderstorm? Then I will miss both the wedding and Litku's gig. And with my bike I'll be stuck at the festival, for cycling a long distance in heavy rain and thunder wouldn't be that nice. Oh well. Time will tell, I said to myself, and arrived at the festival area just in time to see the first band, Suurkaupungin haitat playing rock. I noticed that after all the cycling and yesterday's dancing my feet started to feel a bit heavy. I decided to dance easier, hoping to save some energy for Litku's gig.

The next band was Kormus, a trio of young aspiring rockers. As they were setting up their equipment I overheard them chatting with the local sound techician. The band members said that after their gig they'll head to Vesilahti to play an another show there. Wait what, they are going to drive to the same little village where my friends' wedding party is? I went to talk with the band, asking if that is true. Yes, but they have to leave immediately after their own gig. So I decided to stay to see Litku Klemetti, thus missing a surprise possibility to get to the wedding party.

No thunder nor rain so far, and actually the clouds had started to look less thunderous. So I was happy to see Litku Klemetti show; intelligence, talent, unrestrained energy, and the band dynamically playing together to deliver a playful burst of musical joy. Apparently I was not the only one enjoying their show, as the audience clapped until they returned to play Tähtiyö for encore. After all the singing-along, bouncing and dancing I felt that I have not that much energy left. I was greeted by the people I met yesterday, and they said that if I like to I can sleep at their sauna cabin for another night. I was greatly thankful for that, but I told them that I'll probably just skip the last two bands and leave now when there is still some daylight left. My plan was to cycle as far as I can, and then set up the hammock somewhere for the night, and continue tomorrow, cycling all the way back to my home. A tiny little voice in my mind said that I have now danced all I got, and from this on the rest of the evening would be a slow downhill for me. So better leave now when I feel saturated with happiness.

Cycling the countryside roads I noticed how the scents and the soundscape were different now when it was near the sunset time. All these little details you get to enjoy when cycling instead of driving a car! Again, I thought I'd like to do this more often. Like, to make one or two longer cycling trips every summer, enjoying the road-tripping attitude with no strict plans. It had been a great festival weekend! Yet, a part of my mind was still thinking about my newlywed friends and how I'd like to be at their party. They had booked the place for the whole night, so celebrations will be likely going on at least to the small hours. I mean, arriving there at midnight would be fine enough to catch some of the celebrations, to see the people and to share the joy and happiness with them. As I got close to the Orivesi railway station I decided to go see if there'd be a train to Tampere. I thought that I could leave my bike at the Orivesi station, take a train to Tampere, and then a taxi to Vesilahti. Alas, the last train was already gone. I also checked the bus timetables, but no luck. I went cycling on, but a plan kept on brewing in my mind. I was thinking about all the times I had lost money for because of some stupid reason (like getting my car fixed or something); and how much money I spend in half a year if I buy a few LP's every now and then. So why not spend some money to get to the wedding party? The heck, after all, I'm on a roadtrip, adventuring and dancing with the plans changing, and some things can be taken as once-in-a-lifetime occasions. I cycled to the Orivesi village centre, and saw a taxi driver getting up from the car. I stopped to ask how much a ride to Vesilahti would cost. In my mind I had decided a treshold about 10% of my monthly income - less that that, and I will go. The taxi drived did some calculations, and gave me a price which was less than I had expected. So I left my bicycle at the Orivesi centre, hopped on a taxi and off we went.

It was a nice peaceful ride. The taxi driver was a nice person and we had a nice discussion to pass the time. I arrived at the wedding party about twenty minutes after midnight. Friends, food and drinks, and a group of musicians on the stage. After greeting and hugging the newlywed couple I found myself dancing as the musicians played. Oh joy!

It was great to see how the musicians improvised a lot on the fly. For example; they play a song, and the keyboard player gets delivered a glass of drink. The singer knows the person who delivered the glass, and the singer gestures inviting that person to join the band. He agrees and picks up a saxophone. The rest of the band adapt to the situation, as the new guy plays a saxophone solo. The singer holds her own mic next to the sax to get the sound amplified. After the solo the singer resumes singing, and the sound guy pops up at the stage, quickly installs a mic to the saxophone, thus allowing the sax player to keep on jamming together with the rest of the band. Yes, a simple little detail, but for me this was again an example of a deeper philosophical approach. Somehow, I grew up in a world where it was assumed that for a group of people to work on a common task it takes a well-made plan and then each group-member sticking to the plan. Order or failure. But then the other way is this, where people listen to each other and stay open to the changing situation, each doing their best to support the common goal no matter what the situation. This is where creativity flows, and instead of merely following the orders it is all about being emotionally present and connected with the others. (Yes, I know, plans and orders are needed - it is not 'either / or'. But if too much focus is put on merely following plans and orders, then how do you learn to improvise, when do you learn to listen to creative potential of the changing situation? I think we need to learn both of these skills - planning and improvisation).

After the music there was a lot of nice discussion with friends. I wanted to personally thank Stina Koistinen of Color Dolor as her music has been one of those forces which have helped me in recovering from chronic depression. Stina was glad to hear that, and went onto the stage, sat next to the piano, performing her not-yet-released song about depression. I sat on the next seat, just listening to this medicine called music.

After a sauna bath, some time around 6 am I set up my hammock under some birches on the yard. On Sunday morning there was a brunch, some more improvised music, a lot of merry joking, and together we clened up places. I enjoyed doing practical things together with the other people - it feels like an easy way to be connected with old and new friends, and people I don't know in person. At some point I was thinking if I should somehow organize the rest of my trip. I asked a few people if I can a ride to Tampere. My plan was that I could meet friends there, then take a train back home, and go pick up my bicycle once my car is again legal to drive. As the day went on it turned out that Stina and her cousin are going to drive to Eastern Finland - so that their route passes via Orivesi. So I got back to the exact place where I had left my bike. Also, that was fourty minutes before a train to Vilppula. So I again cycled to the Orivesi railway station, bought a ticket and boarder the train with the bike. As I cycled the last kilometres back to home I thought to myself that with all the plans changing this was actually a pretty great trip which took me to places I couldn't have planned beforehand.

In a train
Saturday morning view
Litku Klemetti
Saturday view at sunset time
tags: 
depression
diary
music
philosophy
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Comments

hello erkka! It'S the first time i stumble on your blog i started playing unreal world maybe 3 months ago , and i just can't stop playing it.It represent the life style i dream of in my montreal south shore appartment. Thank you and your friends for this. Just wanted to let you know that you seem like a great man and im glad you had a fun time on this trip and it was very refreshing to read! And the lakes you picture look like the lakes in the game! It's mind blowing for me lol. anyways enjoy!

Hello, and thanks for the feedback!

What comes to UnReal World, I think all the credit goes to my friend Sami who is the main developer. Me and other friends have helped with some stuff, but the project grows, lives and thrives on Sami's creativity and dedication.

When I started this blog, one of the inspirations was UnReal Wolrd players every now and then asking to hear more of real life stories behind the scenes of indie game development. I had felt that my life is rather ordinary and nothing so special, but then at some point I realized that many aspects of common and usual Finnish countryside living might actually be exotic and inspiring for readers from different corners of the world.

This is truly an amazing adventure, Erkka! I've dreamed about doing something similar a few years ago when I first found your blog, going to visit some friends on the next city by bike. But it happens that it was a lot farther, and having to ride some 100km on a highway full of trucks and cars wouldn't be very pleasant. The topography here has a lot of hills too, so that just makes things more complicated. But that's still a plan that I have somewhere at the back of my mind, of just taking my bike and going to see friends somewhere far away, and I hope to be able to do that someday!

I don't know but I'd guess for cycling long distances, the question would be how and where to sleep. Luckily, in Finland we have the ancient forest code which permits us to temporarily camp anywhere on privately owned woodlands - so the question mostly boils down to loading all the camping equipment on a bike. A few years ago one of my friends travelled nearly 1000 km by bike, he had a small trailer attached to the bike.

Well, but anyway, I wish some day you get to try that kind of biking adventure! And, sure, I hope I'll also myself get to cycle more often =)

Moi Erkka!
What a true adventure! Loved reading it so much I read it again to my husband. At some point we were interrupted by our daughter and he said: "no, no, keep reading"! hahaha
Great one! Being spontaneous and what we miss most in this "new era".

Hehe, great! Cheers, and my regards to your husband and daughter!

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