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Keep on rockin' in the free world

I was tired, and feeling slightly uneasy about not having had that much time for my indie coding. But there were a few things I had already promised to do, and I knew I would feel even more uneasy if I'd skip those things. Like, visiting my son and his wife for they had recently moved to a new apartment and had asked me to help with some practical things. Also, visiting a friend whose webpage I made - last time we met we decided to spend a night having sauna and then updating his webpage in the morning, some day at the end of May. But it was no more May, the first days of June had already passed. Taking a look at my calendar I noticed that earlier in the spring I had written a note; Rage of Rabbits is going to play a gig on a small pub in Pälkäne, near Tampere. I was tired, and had mixed feelings about whether to stay at home focusing on my own introvert stuff, or to go see people I care about and to enjoy good music.

Well, but if I'd go to see a gig at Pälkäne, and then go to Tampere the following day, then where I'm going to spend the night in between? Drive to Tampere after the gig? But what if I'm terribly tired? What about just sleeping in the woods somewhere slightly outside the village? In Finland we still have the ancient wilderness code; it is OK to set up a tent at privately owned land, as long as you are at least a stone's throw away from anyone's yard. Taking a look at the map I found a number of possible nice camping locations near the village. Like, a rocky hill called 'Pakovuori' ("Mount Escape" or "The Runaway Hill"). I'm not sure but often that kind of names date back to early 1700 AD, when Russian troops raided Finland, looting food and valuables, sometimes killing or torturing and abusing people, sometimes also taking people with them and forcibly relocating them to Russia. At those times people often retreated to hidden places and stayed there until the marauders were gone. Such were the barbaric times a long long time ago in the history! Luckily, as a collective mankind we have evolved past such brutality, haven't we? Wait, what? Erm, well, huh... Okay, for some reason the idea of sleeping at Pakovuori didn't feel very inviting, so I thought maybe Laipanmaa Hiking Area would be nicer.

It started to look like plan. I packed the basic camping equipment and went driving. As soon as I had made my mind and left home I felt happy about my decision; this is going to be small roadtrip, something I've been dreaming about. Rage of Rabbits is one of those small bands I learnt about in my favorite indie festival. That festival is not going to happen this summer, so I need to look for other possibilities to get to dance wildly to live music. And when I saw Rage of Rabbits I also had a small chat with the band members - they said that they are playing because it is fun to play together, so performing for an audience is just some extra on top of that. In other words; they don't play gigs that often, so if I'd like to see them better not miss this possibility. I didn't take the shortest route to Pälkäne, but instead chose smallerroads, scouting for one particular small side-road which takes to the Laipanmaa Hiking Area. The Moon was almost full, hanging above the horizon as I drove down winding country roads.

The showtime was at 10 pm, I arrived after 9pm. It was going to be two bands, Rage of Rabbits and Etyyli. I haven't heard Etyyli before, so I thought maybe it is something like a smaller band to warm up for the Rabbits. Or something, it will be interesting to see. It was free entry, but I wanted to support the venue by buying a pint of beer, thinking that if I don't drink more alcohol I'll safely be fit to drive after the gig. There were a few people hanging around in the bar, and the band stage was set up outdoors at the terrace. There wasn't anything which looked like an obvious dance floor, so I was thinking if the local people are going to dance at all, and if not will I find my own dance mood - leaping around alone, not caring how stupid I probably look. I slowly sipped the beer and chatted with a group of locals who sat next to me. I asked them if people do dance in this place, but they shrugged in response. Oh well.

The band started to play, and it made me feel good. They describe their genre as 'rockish/punkish/somethings', and I especially like the 'somethings' of it =) Also, I love this kind of small local venues; the stage is not elevated, but the band plays at the same level with the audience, there is not that much separating the players and the dancers. And the magic worked, my eyes half-closed I danced like no-one is watching, feeling the joy of music. And as the band played on, more people started to dance. Hehe, I often find it uneasy or clumsy to discuss with other people, but this kind of non-verbal sharing has become easier and easier for me. Those brief moments of eye-contact with smiles; it is like sharing the basic message of "you are here, I am here, the music is good, we dance, all is good!". And I think (and feel) that it is this level of basic sharing, the basic connection which is one of the most fundamental things in human life - a cure to depression, and personally for me also something like a spiritual experience. What is the meaning of Life? It is to dance, to dance together with the other living beings.

The band members seemed to remember me from the gig of last summer, mentioning how they are happy to see me here, dancing. Also, some other people came to chat with me, telling how they feel joy as I dance. Oh, one of my long-term persistent personal problems has been a feeling that when I try to express myself, other people misunderstand my message and instantly get angry at something I never event thought about, but it is not possible to explain myself as those people are already enraged and can't think logically but just keep on attacking me because of their own biases and misunderstandings. To me that kind of non-communication has felt like a default, the normal, something to expect to happen almost every time. And, earlier my own expectations were often paralyzing, leaving me unable to communicate. And dancing has been one of the ways I've slowly tried to defuse my fears; when I dance I really don't care how it looks like, I'm not trying to impress anyone with my moves - but I just try to enjoy the freedom, the joy of movement, being present in the moment. Now, talking with those few other people who wanted to talk with me, I understood they somehow understood, in my dancing they had sensed the 'letting go of trying to make an impression', the ritual of overcoming fears, the ritual of letting go of internalized control, the celebration of just being here together with other people, letting the music flow in the body, participating in the rhythm and groove. Hehe, again, as I write this I feel slightly uneasy about 'maybe, no matter how much I try to explain, this is going to look like I'm bragging about other people paying attention to me, me, myself and I, which is the exact opposite of what I try to say'. Well, enough of my fears, I'll write and post this anyway =)

But speaking is still often difficult for me. For example, I was delighted to see that the sound engineer was a guy I remember working also at that strange funny indie festival last year and the summers before that. I always appreciate those people who do their work to enable the show, to allow other people to play and the audience to enjoy the show. And, again, we were at a small village bar, and the technical side was arranged in a really professional manner. The sound was not too loud, good to be enjoyed without earplugs, yet loud enough to really feel like rock, and balanced enough to make all the different instruments audible. And at some point there was a technical problem, the sound guy hopped on to fix a connector or something, and the show went on. On his way back I saw how he greeted a lady, they danced together for a while. I felt happy to see that he is not just working, but also gets to enjoy the music himself. Oh, and then at some point I noticed words in my head forming a sentence; 'hey, you - I don't know how you are, but here and many other gigs before I've greatly enjoyed the quality of your work! Appreciate that! Keep up the good work!' But when this sentence was ready to be uttered, the guy was no more there, he had merged somewhere into the shadows, or into the crowd. And later on in the night when I saw him again I couldn't find a natural easy mood to give positive verbal feedback to unknown people. So, despite dancing together and celebrating that basic sense of shared communication, it doesn't automatically translate to words coming easily. So instead I just smiled to people, and said a small "nice to see you here!" to a few unknown people. Just trying to learn these basics of human verbal communication, like giving positive feedback.

More audience had turned up, the place started to be crowded. I realized that the other band, Etyyli, was more known among the locals. But for a moment I thought if I should leave already; I was happy and had satisfied my longing to dance like there is no tomorrow. But I didn't feel too tired, so I decided just to hang around since I already was there. Etyyli had their own songs in Finnish, playing a bit more straight-forward rock than the somethings of the Rabbits. And so I found myself in a middle of a dancing crowd, people waving hands, jumping up and down, singing along and smiling. Somehow it felt really nice to take part in that collective cheerful joy. The band also played covers of some well known pieces. And so the dancing went on. Maybe some of the audience were more interested in beer than dancing all night long (which is fine, as well), so towards the end of the gig there was a bit more space at what has turned into a dance floor. The band started to play Rockin' in the Free World, and soon the singer of The Rabbits came to the dance floor, singing along to the classic piece, and we synchronized our moves to celebrate that moment together. (A lot could be said about the theme, but I won't do it now. Let me just say that on that very moment I felt genuinely happy to live in a country where I will not be jailed for 15 years if I publish a blog post with facts which contradict what the government says...)

Eventually it was encore, and the party was over. One of the persons who previously chatted with me invited me to join the band and their friends at backstage. But I felt that I have already shared and communicated everything essential, having no more social energy. So I drank some water, sat for a while, and then went driving. And then a recommendation; road 322, half a way between Luopioinen and Rautajärvi there is Pihtilammentie, to the west. After some 3km of driving there is a small sign guiding to Pihtilammen laavu, there is a parking place less than 100 metres from the site. A pond, two fire pits, an outdoor dry toilet, firewood, and a lean-to shelter. Also, a number of good spots for tents. I arrived there at 2am. Usually I enjoy places which are only reachable on foot, after a few kilometers of hiking. But arriving at small hours, after dancing a lot, I was very happy that there are also this kind of places. Apparently, I was not the only one, as there were a few cars on the parking place, and a fire burning at the fire pit next to the shelter. Well, I chose myself a quiet spot and set up the tent. Soon I was asleep.

In the morning I slept long. When I got up the other people were already either gone or packing up. There was no-one at the shelter, but the ashes at the fire pit were still warm. I added in some firewood and cooked myself coffee. After the breakfast I went walking for an hour. Laipanmaa seems to offer trails for a hike of one or two days, and the scenery I saw was charming. So, well worth visiting again with more time to spend walking around. Well, but I wanted to get to Tampere, so that I'll have unhurried time to spend with my son and his wife. As I left I realized that Tampere isn't that far away, so I can sustain my road-trip attitude. I stopped at Rautajärvi, for there was a local pub there. They served food, and their special is a hamburger made of locally grown beef. I ordered it, and as I sat waiting for my meal (it didn't take long) I enjoyed watching the deliberately old-fashioned interiors of the place. They had a led display running ads, and I learnt they also have a handful of events with live music. Oh, interesting! Let's see, maybe I could have another small road-trip later on in the summer?

Then to Tampere, and Lempäälä. Meeting people, eating together, having a sauna, driving a bike, good discussions, updating the webpage. And then back to home. The whole trip was something like 48 hours, but felt refreshing like a week-long holiday.

Country roads
Country roads
Rage of Rabbits
Rage of Rabbits
2am in the woods
2am in the woods
Another small pond
Another small pond
288 users have voted.


Happy birthday!! Nice post. I love how you explain what you feel in a way I (everyone?) can relate. Thanks always!

Happy Birthday Erkka! And thank you for the post and the pictures, Finnish nature is beautifull!

Happy Birthday Erkka! Thank you for keeping us updated on your thoughts and events :)

Happy Birthday Erkka, have a good one!

Hope you're well friend. Look forward to your next post.

Ah, I wish you well, too. I feel relatively well, but I have little idea when it will be the next blog post. Most of my keyboard time goes either to coding Ancient Savo project, or sometimes corresponding with my personal friends. And somehow the idea of the blog has felt a little bit blurry - after all, this is a blog about semi-hermit lifestyle, and typically to write a blog is to reach out for a wider audience (which kind of a goes counter to the inner call of the hermit). Hehe, but I'd guess one of these days (or week, or months) I'll find myself again in such a state of mind where I write as if there was no-one reading, and then it feels more like a hermit thing to do =)

The time will come to write again, no pressure! I'm charmed by your semi-hermit way of living and hope to find myself in a similar situation someday. Ideally with a small home and forested land. Also always interested in the Finnish indie bands you share! It's been too long since I've seen live music and it means a great deal to me. Look forward to playing beta version of Savo in November. Cheers.


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