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Life in the Finnish Woods

In the morning I woke up and went to feed my animals; hay to the horses and sheep, some food for the cats and the dog. Then I lit up fire in the fireplace, and sat on the sofa drinking coffee. Everything felt cozy and easy. My simple life in the finnish woods is pretty much the way I always dreamed of. My goal is to slowly become self-sufficient to some degree, reducing the amount of money I need. To learn handicraft and survival skills, to do things of my own, renovate my house, recover from chronic depression, and to live in peace and harmony with nature.

I have studied philosophy at the University, and I'm a father to an adult son. When I finished my studies I knew that I don't want to pursue for an academic career. I was dreaming about living in a small house in the countryside, rearing animals and doing practical work. It was only that I was penniless and heavily depressed and didn't know how to make my dreams come true. That was fifteen years ago.

When I finally bought my house, back in the spring 2008, I was still equally penniless and depressed. I felt that no matter what I try to do in my life I'm doomed to fail. But I decided to try anyway. I did various odd jobs so that I could get a small loan from the bank. This house was sold to me with a remark "not in a livable condition", which made the price affordable for me. So I took the risk, as I couldn't know for sure if it would be possible to live in this house. In the first summer I checked that the fireplace is safe to use, I fixed a leaking spot in the roof and replaced a rotten part of the ceiling, bought an outdoor toilet, installed a waterhose from a well to the house, built a small sauna - and before the winter the house was in a barely livable condition. I finished the sauna before christmas, and felt that I'm going to survive. There was new hope. Nowadays I earn my living being an independent massage therapist.

So, this is my web diary, a blog about my life in the finnish woods. I hope my writings encourage you to believe in your own dreams, to follow your own path.
Feel free to send feedback, to ask questions and to post comments.

Erkka's house in the wintertime
tags: 
about
depression
diary
homesteading
philosophy
spirituality
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Comments

Just wanted to let you know that this blog has achieved its goal: it does encourage me to believe in my dreams, that have been fading, or sputtering, the last few years. I've always dreamed of living close to real wilderness, space and quiet, with practical work and worries (not the "worries" of suburbia), but now past 30 and married, I feel further and further away from such things being possible or even such dreams being "realistic". But your blog makes me think otherwise.

That was a gutsy move, going in debt with a loan to buy an "unlivable" house. I don't know if I would have had the guts to do that, even though it's something that I have dreamed of. But seeing it pay off, like it seems to have, encourages me that these things are possible.

Bookmarking this blog: Keep posting!

Thank you for the feedback!

If a penniless, depressed hippie like me can finally buy a house of his own, then I believe anyone can make ones dreams come true =) It might take some time and patience, some adventures, some struggling, some trials and erros - failures are lessons to learn from. And sometimes miracles happen when you least expect.

Depression is a nasty thing. It makes one feel that ones dreams aren't realistic, and without dreams life feels empty. And emptiness fuels depression, and one gets stuck in the bog. But at some point I thought to myself: "Well, if I anyhow feel that no matter what I try in my life it is doomed to fail - so then why not take a big risk, try my luck and see what happens..." Or maybe it was my intuition telling me that it is time to break free and start the adventure.

Dude, you're awesome.

En kirjoita tänään kielillä. kun mun pää on entistäkin tyhjempi ja yhtään sanaa ei tuu mieleen.
Palasin juuri metsästä rakkaan Cobrani kanssa.Tuntuu , kuin viimeaikoina olisin kadottanut itsestäni jotain ehkä vapauden. Nyt on pakko pikkuhiljaa alkaa etsimään palasia kokoon etten katoa kokonaan :D Tuntuu hyvältä lukea blokiasi se huokuu rauhaa, määrätietoisuutta ja olet pystynyt toteuttamaan sen, mitä itsellesi suunnaksi olet halunnutkin...joo perässä tullaan, mutta tänään tuntuu pahalta...kuumeessa ..pidin silti nyt 2 päivää vapaata , mistä ei tykätty....lomittaja tulee maanantaina ja saan vihdoinkin kaipaamani vapaapäivät.Valoa tulevaan kuitenkin sillä ostetiin eestin raskas vetohevos ruuna Kaadium, joka kotiutuu heti , kun saan kaiken sumplittua valmiiksi....kiitos blokistasi sitä on mukava lukea <3

Haha, sometimes your life comes down to one insane move. (Avatar quote XD) Also, I didn't know you were educated in Philosophy at the University! What did you study? I am also a Philosophy major and with my current work I finally found an employer who was like, "A Philosophy degree! That's great!" Instead of "A Philosophy degree? What are you going to do with that?" I really appreciate your openness about depression, especially your post about drinking coffee in a tree. I feel that a lot of people that suffer from chronic depression really feel like they're the only ones who have felt isolation because so many people cannot empathize with such a feeling. A good friend of mine read your Tree post and really felt like you expressed depression quite eloquently(as she has struggled with depression her whole life). You have definitely made another fan who reads your blog and can hopefully co-inspire!

I guess sense of isolation usually is one of the key elements in depression. The feeling that no matter how much you try to express your inner self, the others never understand... At the University I was mostly interested in epistemology, and tried to follow Maurice Merleau-Pontys journey into re-thinking subject/object consciousness / body - dichotomies. Well, maybe I'll write more of these in the blog itself =) So thanks for co-inspiration, and keep on commenting!

Hi Erkka,

I'm a philosophy major studying -- "officially" -- the Liberal studies of the entire Western thought. It's part of a bigger curriculum, and I'm fortunate enough to be in it. I have yet to read Maurice Merleau-Pontys but probably will next year. As of now, I'm studying John Dalton's atomic theory and a few more tedious authors concerning English history and the such.

I played your game today and felt so akin to it that I decided to hunt down its creators. Your self-isolating spirit is in the game's core. The objective of the game is not to communicate with villagers or to assimilate in some sort of role -- but to simply live, an existential art. What is impressive about the game is how easy it is to die. I feel like this is a way of speaking about one's own sense of failure while also speaking about one's own sense of wonder and excitement in the both the material and the spiritual. To exist, one must create/destroy and pray.

I'll be reading this blog for inspiration. I'm yet so young, but I feel the crushing weight of depression daily -- and the emptiness of my pockets. One day I hope to buy some cheap land and an unlivable house to pursue my real adventures.

Thank you much,
Sam

Thanks for the feedback! An existential art, yes =)

Merleau-Ponty's way of writing is not the easiest to follow. When you get to read his books, feel free to send me a message if you'd like to exchange views. A good discussion with my fellow students was one of the best things of my years at the university.

"The world is not what I think, but what I live through. (Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception, preface)"

Thank you! I will certainly keep this in mind.

Hello Erkka,
first of all congratulations for what you have accomplished.
When I found your blog, I felt good, because reading your article "Life in the finnish woods", I found myself in the words you wrote. I feel depressed too, I also dream, like you, to live in a house in the woods in Finland, away from the country where I live (Italy), I also want to return to a simpler life, in the wildness. I also, unfortunately, at the moment have no money even if I have a job (which I hate) that could let me set aside some money. Many people think that what I want to do is unrealistic, but your blog shows the opposite.
If you do not mind I would like to ask you some "technical" questions. For example, I was wondering how you made the connections for electric current? Do you have solar panels?
Do you know any Finnish website to find land for sale?
Thank you in advance for your answer and good luck for all
Luigi

Hello,

at the moment I have plain ordinary electric connection, and I'm paying for a big company for the electricity I use... the connection was already installed to the house when I bought the place, so it was an easy start. I'd like to install solar panels etc. to minimize the amount of electricity I have to buy, but I haven't yet been able to save money for proper equipment.

I think there are some web sites listing land for sale in Finland, and at least this one seems to have english version too: http://www.nettiasunto.com/en/advSearch.php?hty=gnd_fst&ctg=S

Also, I think that one good way to find a place in Finland would be to look for a job in countryside. (http://www.mol.fi/mol/en/index.jsp) For example, if you'd find something for a summer, you can ask the employer for accommodation, and then get to see the surroundings, maybe make friends with local people, and see how you like it. That way, when people know you, you might find a place which is not "officially" for sale. This was also the case with my hosue - I didn't pick it from a list of places for sale. I called the owners directly, asking if it could be possible to negotiate about buying the place. After a moment of hesitation they agreed.

I happened to find this blog while searching for some Iron Age related info, I have a massive interest in history, self reliance, bushcraft and everything involved in showing respect to the mother earth and father sky! Though this post is a few years old now, I have looked at your most recent and a few others! Its amazing to see what you have out there and I think you're an inspiring human my friend, you should keep at your goals and dreams forever, never stop.

I envy the beauty in which you live, we in England have amazing places of our own but nothing that is true wilderness, I was arrested for having my axe out in the woods while working on a shelter for myself! And I wasnt even using living trees for it! pure deadwood but they decided my Axe was a 'weapon'...sad really.

Anyway...Keep at it! I shall be reading and replying to your blogs more often!

Ben Trawford - United Kingdom

Well, I'm glad to hear you have enjoyed finding this blog =) One of the good sides of the internet: allowing people to accidentally stumble upon interesting stuff.

I have visited UK couple of times, and once I took a train from London to see the Warwick castle. During the journey I could only spot a small patches of forest in the distance, as everything else was either urban or cultivated land - that is so different compared to Finland, where the forest basically stretch all the way from the capital city up the Lapland, and urban / cultivated areas are just patches inside the forest =) Oh well, but of course I must say that most of the forest nowadays is kind of a semi-cultivated land, which is very different from natural old-growth forests. So, I'm very lucky that I'm not living next to a clearcut, but next to a nice forest =)

Once I was up in the Scotland, and there the scenery was much more familiar. I actually liked the highlands very much, and would like to return some day. It would be great to spend several days hiking the mountain trails.

But, uh oh - being arrested for walking in a forest carrying an axe? In Finland that would be considered a serious violation of basic rights!

Warwick castle is an awesome place, they do really interesting re enactments there on a regular basis, Im lucky enough to live a stones throw away from an Iron Age hillfort, though heavily eroded due to the material it was made from and of course the wear of time, the old growth Oak forest was cut down for warships in the Napoleonic era, much of it is young Corsican Pine/ Larch and random broadleaf now but as i said, people are more than eager to report to the police when they see anyone doing anything other than walking a dog around aha.

I can understand your connection with Scotland, the Caledonian forest is a fantastic remnant of the borreal forest, much of it lost to peat farming I think.

I think you would enjoy walking through Wales also, truly a mountain land with an abundance of historic places :D I visit as much as I can as the coast is only 120 miles from my house, the sea provides easy meals for the hiking!.

I found myself deeply lost in Unrealworld last night also as I'm an avid gamer, i have love for the roguelikes.

Hi Erkka,
I'm a fellow philosophy graduate, lover of Merleau-Ponty (among others), folklore and ancient landscapes. I am from rural Yorkshire and was raised adventuring on the moors.
I am also a writer doing some research into Finnish folklore, both rural and urban, and wondered if you have an email address I can contact you on?
I would love to ask you some questions and introduce myself and my work as some of the folklore and ancient landscape projects I am involved in might be of interest to you.
My adventures in Unreal World led me to you, I came across the game by chance and wanted to find out about the people who make it. Having read your blog, it seems you have just the kind of knowledge base that might be able to point me in the right direction with my research.
Thanks for your time,
Jamie

Hello!

Sounds nice and interesting. I also noticed your message in Twitter, so I wrote my e-mail address there. Just to avoid too many spambots scanning the net for e-mail addresses. So, yes, feel free to send e-mail. My typical response time is anything from 15 minutes to one week, depending on how busy / tired / idle I am =)

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