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A roller coaster ride

In the springtime I had some ideas what I would like to do this summer. One of those ideas was to try a roller coaster ride. I never enjoyed those amusement park rides - they just send me back into a physical and emotional freeze reaction, leaving an empty, numb and unreal feeling. But maybe after all these years, at this point of my long slow recovery process it might be time to try it again - to deliberately go into a situation which triggers a physical sense of thrill and threat, to face those feelings hoping to overcome memories of pain, finally allowing myself just to enjoy the ride, enjoy the sense of surviving a challenging situation without a need to collapse into the freeze reaction.

Well, but in the summer I somehow almost forgot that idea, since there were other things drawing my attention. Then Mariska announced that her album will be released on Friday 21st of October, mentioning that there will also be a live gig at Helsinki - in the final day of the end-of-the-season celebrations of Linnanmäki amusement park. OK, I thought to myself - It is going to be Mariska's first major live performance since they quit with the band Mariska & Pahat Sudet. I want to see and hear the concert, and if that takes me to an amusement park then why not try a roller coaster ride? I booked train tickets to Helsinki and back.

At Helsinki I first met a friend from the University years. We sat down for an unhurried discussion and went to see an art exhibition. And he recommended a book - he had brought a copy of that book and lent it for me to read. (It's about moral psychology and philosophy - more about that in the blog posts to come.) I went for a seaside coffee at the charming Cafe Regatta. And from there I walked to the Linnanmäki amusement park. It was a windy, chilly autumn day, there weren't that many people at the park. It was still several hours before Mariska's gig, and couple of hours before the first band of the night. Plenty of time to try some of those amusement park rides, yes. I walked around the park, taking a look at all the different activities they had - I walked two or three rounds, up and down and around and around the park. Soon I realized that I'm starting to feel cold, uninspired, alien and disconnected from everything. Watching all those smiling and laughing youngsters and adults, couples, teens and families I felt myself as an observer, not a participant. I realized this is not a good starting point for thrilling physical activity like a roller coaster ride, so I first better do something which helps me to feel more present and whole.

So I picked one of their fast-food restaurants and realized that they also sell beer and wine. I ordered a glass of red wine and sat down in a corner table to read the book on moral philosophy. The book was rather interesting, inspiring and well written (and the wine was good). Reading philosophy made me feel like participating - instead of just being a disconnected observer, my mind made a contact with the narrative of the book, instead of just watching I was actively processing the thoughts conveyed by the text. (Now the observing part of my soul was benevolently amused by the situation; so typical of me, come to an amusement park and settle down reading philosophy sipping red wine). I spent more than hour reading the book, and when I walked out from the restaurant I realized that more and more people had been pouring into the park. Now there were queues everywhere, all the rides were packed with people. I tried to meet some of my friends who had also come to the park, but that was nearly impossible because of the crowd. So I went to see the first band which was about to start. It was Sammal, playing Finnish Progressive Rock. They were good, sent me dancing a little. After that I felt myself physically and emotionally ready for a roller coaster ride - but it looked like I'd had to stand in a queue for half an hour just to get a ticket for a ride. So I skipped that and just tried to keep myself warm and fed - I found a fast-food booth which only had about ten minutes queue, so I did that.

Finally, it was Mariska. She has said that with her fresh album, Matador, she is kind of a returning to her roots, where she started her career. Among other things, that means electronic music. So, instead of a bigger band on the stage she was accompanied by talented Hanna-Maaria Tuomela playing synths and singing backing vocals. For a couple of pieces they invited Felix Zenger to do his amazing beatboxing. Despite the chilly wind the overall atmosphere was warm and touching. In the crowd there wasn't that much room to dance, but somehow there was this sense of togetherness shared by the audience. It was good to be there, and I felt myself participating instead of merely observing. In so many of my previous posts I've already written in quite a length about the personal impact and meaning of Mariska's music, so that now I find myself strangely out of words. So I won't try to analyze the experience of being there, all I can say that it was definitely worth it, and I'm looking forward to their future concerts.

It was Saturday 22nd of October, 10 pm, time to close the amusement park for this summer. Following a stream of people I got out the park, and walked to the nearest railway station. I took a commuter train to get to my friends, and we spent a lovely late evening chatting together. The following morning I woke up on a mattress in their living room, we had unhurried coffee and breakfast. After that I headed back home. Upon arriving at Vilppula railway station I was strangely delighted to see the peace of our little village. On the main street I saw one car and two pedestrians. Compare that to the 20 000 people packed in one single amusement park in Helsinki - it just is a different world =)

Oh well. And on Tuesday I happened to have several hours of free time in between my customers, so I was lucky to catch the third and last screening of an interesting movie in our local cinema. It was Samurai Rauni Reposaarelainen, a Finnish indie film which also premiered on 21st October. The film is made with a shoe-string budget by a crew with no formal schooling in cinematography. It took them several years to get the project finished, and somehow their unique bizarre creation earned them nationwide distribution. I was really happy that in Finland we have people doing projects like these, and that we happen to have a local cinema daring enough to show an indie film. As the film started, we were three people watching - me and a couple. The first fifteen minutes made it clear that not only is the film richly colourful, hauntingly beautiful, gladly bizarre and oddly humorous - it was also bloodily violent. Apparently, that was too much for the couple and they left the screening. So for the rest of the film I enjoyed kind of a private theatre, and seldom I have seen anything like that on the wide screen. All of the images were composed like visual poetry, the characters were consistently insane, the story-telling spiralled into spheres beyond absurd. For me it was literally a jaw-dropping experience, it made me laugh and to cry aloud. Make no mistake - despite all the comedy it is deeply tragic, and all the surrealistic bizarre elements are so vivid that they start to feel like inner reality. And, philosophically speaking, inner reality is where we all live. (The only review I read prior to watching the film said like 'this film makes absolutely no contact with any reality whatsoever'. I fully agree with that, if we are speaking of the external, the objective reality out there. No, this film dives head first deep into the inner reality - often distorted yet compellingly powerful. Combine Kill Bill with the hallucination scenes of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and you start to approach the reality of Rauni Reposaarelainen...)

Uh oh. So, after all, it was quite a roller coaster ride. From peaceful friendly chats to fully packed outdoor concert to being the only spectator in the cinema. Tears of joy and movement listening to Mariska's energetic yet soft voice. Tears of sadness being immersed into the powerful visual poetry of an indie movie. Dancing in the crowd of the amusement park, and finding myself taking dance steps after watching the movie, walking on the parking lot. Reviving some flow and movement in areas of my soul which had been frozen for so long.

The lights of the amusement park
The lights of the amusement park
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