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Ordinary People

I grew up in Juankoski, a small village in the countryside. And I felt the general atmosphere being one of 'don't you try to be anything special, don't pretend to be different, as you are just like us, ordinardy people we are!'. Well, a talented lyrics writer and a famous rocker Juice Leskinen was from Juankoski, too - when I was a teenager, Juice had already moved to a bigger city, and made a career. I could hear the local people either praising Juice for his talent, taking some pride of "Our Boy topping the charts!" - and I could also hear people mocking Juice for having too big an ego; "he thinks he is better than us, but that is not true, he is just an ordinary person. Also, he should visit his mother more often!". That left me thinking - well, if Juice is just an ordinary person, does it mean that he should be somehow 'dragged down' to our level, or does it mean that after all, we all are free to fulfill our inner talent? Why should we, the ordinary people, be restricted by our self-invented social norms - why we can't accept and encourage people seeking their own ways?

I grew suspicious towards all kinds of hierarchies. To me it seemed like the idea of "ordinary people vs. special people" was used as a tool to cut the wings of an individual, so to speak. "Don't waste your time trying to do something special, because you can't. You aren't anything special, you are just an ordinary people. Only special people can do special things, and that's why they are praised, and that's why we have portraits of historical heroes hanging on the walls of the elementary school. Not to inspire you to be like them, but to remind you that you are nothing like them, and can never be. Just bend down your head and go to work in the factory like everyone does here!". But inside myself I refused to see anyone as 'special'. I preferred to see us ordinary people being capable of more, and being free to fulfill our inner calling. After all, isn't it the best way to contribute back to the community, when you are doing good in what you are best at doing?

That also meant that I didn't see anyone as a hero or a guru. I thought that all the great spiritual teachers, every great philosopher, or any genius artist is an ordinary person just like me. I can't wait for anyone to solve my problems, I can't blindly follow a teacher, as I'm the only person who can walk my unique path. And, if I keep on following my path, there aren't any pre-defined limits on what I can find, what skills I can learn, what inner talent I will unleash. The only way to find out is to keep on seeking, keep on doing things I find inspiring, and then to see where that takes. And, for me, my personal quest was mostly about finding a tranquility of mind. To learn to maintain my inner peace and balance, not to be pushed around by external things. Not to panic, not to get upset because of this and that events which are going to happen anyway. To find such a wisdom that I could face the death with accepntance, without fear nor anxiety. To meet the world with good spirited, mellow yet courageous attitude. So, I turned towards Zen, Tao and indigenous people - not to find gurus to follow, but to find inspiring examples, and interesting insights to ponder on.

As a teenager I saw some of my class-mates being fans of this or that band. Hanging posters on the wall, following their idols - and if possible, wanting to get an autograph. To me all of that was somewhat alien. Yes, I liked many bands, and there were arists I liked. But I didn't bother reading music magazines, I seldom read interviews, and never ever felt a need to get an autograph of an artist. As, they were ordinary people, just like me. Talented, yes, but not semi-gods, not heroes whose touch would radiate special light into my lowly mundane life, no. If I want to find my personal life somehow special and meaningful, it has to come from within, not from borrowing the shine perceived in others. So, with that kind of thoughts I grew up, being a somewhat introvert hermit dwelling in my inner world and fiding it difficult to communicate my world with others.

Then, at the mature age of 38, one plain ordinary day I found myself being a fan. Those who have been following my blog might easily guess that I'm talking about Mariska. The piece linked was the one which took me by surprise. It made me ask "who is the person who wrote the lyrics? What are her personal thoughts behind this text? Why is it that her voice reaches the depths of my soul?" Soon I was listening to interviews, reading more and finding lyrics Mariska has written for other artists. It felt like a part of my previously-well-guarded independence had vanished away, and I felt myself a bit child-like; vulnerable, but filled with admiration. At the same time my rational mind recognized that this is a healthy phase in my inner journey - learning to drop some of my unnecessary inner barriers, to let go of some of the control. This phase lasted for something like 18 months, and was a great inner journey to face some of my age-old fears, to re-organize some of my deep emotional patterns. And finally, emerging as feeling more fully myself, being more open to the world and others, and - yes - being more independent, standing own my own feet without that much fear of losing my ground.

I'm still actively following Marsika's career, but nowadays I'm back to my "walk my own path"-mode of liking artists. Then, on the other hand, it also means that for me Mariska's art and interviews are something like reading self-help literature might be for others. Not in the sense of looking for advice or waiting for ready-made answers, but more like finding inspiration and feeling encouraged by the personal story of another ordinary person. For me there is a difference here. Someone telling "do this and your life will be easier" might be interesting but it is not convincing for me. But a personal story of "this is what happened to me, this is how I felt and this is how it changed me" feels like the real thing. It makes me feel that "okay, I recognize something in that, and it gives me faith in walking my own path!". And in Mariska's art and interviews there are a lot of things I find touching and inspiring.

As I have mentioned in some of the earlier posts, she has experimented and worked with many different genres, often being very good at what she does, be it rap or tango. Yet she has couple of times taken a break in her career, withdrawing back to her inner world, mostly writing lyrics for other artists, and then eventually re-emerging with a new band or a new project. I have perceived this process as a kinf of journey in self-actualization; it has not only been about a change in style, but also about changes in ways of working and co-operating. For example, in a recent interview Mariska said that during her last break there were moments when she questioned if there is any point in her work, or if she should do something else. And that she realized that she can't take talent as self-evident, otherwise her work might turn into an empty routine. She found a new way of approaching inpsiration, a new way of working - which she described as 'talking softly and lovingly to her work'. That way, she felt the inspiration and the sense of meaning flowing back into her work - be it writing lyrics for others or for herself.

One of the things I find familiar here is the non-linearity of inner growth. It is not just than one day you learn something and then you master it. No, oftentimes you find yourself returning back to the same old questions, and then finding a slightly new perspective, learning something more about them. Instead of a linear path it often is more like a outwards spiral, which grows round after round. And, instead of being trapped into a neat definition of "I'm a person who is good at doing X, and everybody wants me to do more of X, so I have to work hard to do more of X and to do it good", you can allow yourself to question what and how you work with, to have a break when you need a break, and only return when you feel that you have something to contribute

Allright then. Already in the early summer 2015 I wrote that Mariska is back. A new album was to be expected in the autum 2015, and a tour after that. So, what happened? There was another single release, and an announcement that the album and the tour will be delayed. The autumn turned into winter. Every now and then I thought to myself that what might be the reason of this delay. And I thought "well, they will announce the new album when they are ready for it, and personally I believe that things turn out better when people take all the time they need for it."

Two weeks ago, during a break in between my customers, I was shopping for food at the local super-market, just like any ordinary day. I had collected everything I needed and headed to the counter. Just before the counter something caught my attention, and I turned to take a better look. Next to the counter there are the evening papers and some magazines. And one magazine cover had a picture of a woman with a familiar smile. It said: "Musician Mariska, 37, is pregnant: 'When I was 20, I was told that I won't be able to have children'". OK, so that looks like a proper reason to delay an album release and a tour! I bought the magazine, not for the gossip value, but hoping to read an interview. Luckily, I had enough of a break to read the interview with no hurry. And once again I was touched how Mariska tells her story. At the same time she is open and honestly personal, yet protecting a necessary amount of her private life with elegant dignity. For example, no-one knew if she has a steady relationship, and in the interview she briefly mentioned that yes, she had settled down into a steady relationship with a person who is not a celebrity and doesn't want to be in the publicity. What I like in that, is the way Mariska kind of says "OK, I'll answer this much to your question, but see, don't ask more because I won't tell you more. So no need to gossip about my partner, now you know the facts and please do respect our wish for privacy". Hmmm, I found that relating to my own difficulties with dealing with people who ask more than I'd like to give. Sometimes it would be easier not to speak and not to interact with anyone - as it feels that if I kindly promise "OK, I can share this much with you", soon they will ask for more and more... So I have to learn to express myself in a friendly but a clear manner. I sense that kind of friendly but firm clarity in Mariska's answer, and it makes me feel more like 'oh yes, that is the way it goes, this helps me to better recognize and to cultivate the same kind of clarity in my own thinking and communication.'

Also, running through that interview was this wonderful atmosphere of peaceful self-acceptance. Mariska told that how, at the age of 20, when consulting a doctor for some other stuff, she got also said that for these medical reasons she won't be able to have children. At that time Mariska calmly accepted it as the way things are - for an aspiring female rapper in her twenties there sure are other things to do than to consider having babies. So, Mariska's life and career went on. In order to be well and fit for her work, she kept on taking care of herself - seeking different kinds of excercise and treatments to help with her health. For example, she had medication to keep her asthma under control, but over the years she felt her condition improving so that she could quit the medication. (And, the way I see things, this kind of stuff is connected to those questions of re-arranging or re-thinking one's attitude towards one's work, life and personality. That outward spiral of inner growth has both the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.) Since she knew that she is not likely to get pregnant, she didn't take any treatments for that. Having a baby was not a project. But, apparently, life went a different way, and Mariska found herself pregnant. In a radio interview she desribed that as a briew moment of "wow!" and then settling back to the warm acceptance of "OK, this is how things are now." And that is what I quite like. She is not indifferent towards her life, she recognizes new life as a wonderful happy great miracle, but at the same time she just accepts it as the way life is - no extra fuss, no losing of inner balance.

Personally I'm happy for Mariska and her family. I don't care if an album release or a tour is delayed - actually I wish Mariska to take as long maternal leave as she feels like. If I like an artist, I don't want to see her sacrificing her personal life for the sake of career. And, also, I can imagine several healthy ways of combining family life with musical career, so I'm happy with having the tour dates as "to be announced later" =) Well, anyhow, a bit before that article was published in a magazine, Mariska re-activated her internet profile. She started to share pictures and news in the social media, and to write a blog. All of which I find like an another medium for art - ie. sharing small personal stories or thoughts with other ordinary people =)

A while ago Mariska released a fresh single, Typötyhjiin. It got released only in digital format. But Mariska launched a small campaign in her facebook profile, giving away seven signed physical copies of Typötyhjiin. All the people had to do was to write a comment telling why they should get the single. That sparked people to write all kind of stories. Reading those stories I liked many of them and wished people get the physical copy they want to get. After considering for a moment, I wrote kind of a meta-comment praising the stories people have already told, and that how I'm happy with the live experience I've had on Mariska's gigs, so I feel no need to compete for the physical copy. I largerly forgot about it, until one day there was a message in my in-box. It was the pr-guy from the publishing label, asking for my postal address so that they can deliver the single I've won =)

Well, the CD arrived today, with Mariska's hand-written autograph on it. It makes me smile. In a way, it reminds me how we all are ordinary people - but not to be pre-restricted by what the other say, or what we believe about ourselves. Life is a journey, and sometimes it takes us to places we didn't know we could go. The only way to know is to keep on walking, each and every day, on your own unique path. All the detours included - as sometimes they turn out to be just necessary curves in the outward spiralling path.

Typötyhjiin by Mariska
Typötyhjiin by Mariska
tags: 
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Comments

Hmm, the first couple of paragraphs remind me of why I dislike collectivist forms of social organization. I mean, I think it is great when one can /choose/ to be part of a community and share and work together with like-minded others, but when one is /forced/ to do these things by the majority, then everyone resents it and everything is pulled down to the lowest common denominator.

I think that leaving my home-culture was a key part of learning to love my home and the culture of the people who inhabit it. Had I stayed from the beginning, I would have accepted it grudgingly. But having left for a while, I discovered that I preferred to be where I had come from. And after returning, I now appreciate it more than I would had I never left. And even advocate for it, whereas before I would have probably just complained about it. Lol.

It seems odd to me, though, for your people to try to dissuade you from doing better for yourself when you were young. When we were young, we were encouraged to go out and make something better of ourselves and find our own path through life (I think this may also be why the population of Appalachia is shrinking rather than growing too, lol). Do you think that this is a cultural difference between your people and mine, or what do you think about that? Or do you think it was just something unique to our particular individual upbringings?

Indeed! Too many groups use psychological pressure trying to prevent any member leaving the group. But I'd guess a group is stronger, if the members are there because they have freely chosen to do so =) And sometimes it is so healthy to see other cultural settings, before deciding which way to lead in ones own life.

Well, of course I'm a bit over-simplifying when describing the general atmosphere of the village where I grew up. First, it must be said that of course people there wanted to see everyone improving and doing better - it was just that there was a somewhat conservative and unquestioned framework defining what "better" and "improvement" are - and what they aren't:

Working hard at the factory : good
Studying to become a part of the white-collar management : good
Music and art : suspicious, it might make a good hobby, but don't let it ruin your real career.
Philosophy : a sure path to the madhouse! Cut your hair and get a real job!

Well, but I was interested in philosophy and arts, and I wanted to question the whole framework. That was a bit too much for most of the folks =)

Then, the other thing is that I was 2 years old when our family moved to the village. And my parents are from another cultural area, so we didn't have any roots in that area, no relatives living nearby. My parents didn't speak the dialect of the local people. Also, it was a small industrial community in the middle of countryside. There were working-class families where everyone went to work at the ironworks just like their grand-parents and great-grandparents did. And, I'd guess that in every traditional community formed around a factory there is this class-hierarchy. My father happened to be among the top management. So, in pretty many ways our family was always somewhat set apart from those families who had been living and working there for generations.

I loved this text. And I could totally relate to what Polecat said here too, in the first two paragraphs. So true!

I feel the same way about a musician in the US called the Mountain Goats. I play his music all day and then sometimes relapse to something else or become interested in whatever, but whenever he writes on his blog or does a tour, I get excited and listen to a few albums while working. I participate in the little stuff he does like fund-raising, etc.

I might have a few people that I would consider myself a "fan" of... well... I don't know really. Fans are usually fanatic about something. I hope not to be a fanatic about something -- though I can be enthusiastic. Like this -- you don't know me, but I've read your blog since freshman year in college. I'm now a senior. I was around when you first blogging here -- and sent you a message sometime asking you how this website works. I think myself of a "fan" -- because I follow your blog and read it regularly. But I certainly don't have like an Ureal World poster in my room. Maybe you should start selling those. You could make it heavy-metal themed. :'-D

Hehe, years ago someone suggested in UrW forums that we could sell UrW T-shirts for fund-raising =)

Ah, I remember you sending that message (about how this site works). Hehe - couple of months ago one of my friends asked me how many readers my blog has. And I answered that I simply don't know; I think no statistics are completely reliable, since there are always spam-bots generating traffic. The like-button has spam-prevention automation, but for a long time I felt unsure if there really are nearly 200 likes to some of the posts - does it mean that many people reading and liking, or is it just an occasional spam-bot trying every button to see if they can get a spam through =)

Well, but it is nice to hear that there are real people out there, who find my writings interesting enough to follow regularly. As, one of the main motives of my writings is a wish to express something which resonates with other people, gives food for thought, encourages others to walk their own unique path. So, in that sense, I certainly don't want to see anyone being a fanatic fan of my writings; that often means having an unrealistically positive image of the idol, and trying to mimic or copy his style - instead of feeling encouraged to be true to ones own ways.

Ah, but being enthusiastic sounds good! And, in a way, it resonates back to me, and helps me feel more inspired to write. So, once again, thank you for everyone who have been reading and commenting, writing feedback and personal messages!

I took so long to understand what I actually liked to do, which sort of group I belonged and all that. I used to go to parties and hated them, but I felt I had to go, and so I did (social pressure). But now that Im aware of this social pressure thing and all the things "We are suppose to do", it has been different. Just now I (think) I "found myself" with Philosophy and writing and my family health biscuits. BUT, the thing is I don't tend to go into extremes. For instance, I don't read everything I can about Philosophy and I'm FAR from being able to discuss it properly; I don't obsess about writers and how to write and creative courses and all that, I just write and do a course here and there; and I don't obsess about health food because I have h my family health biscuits.... Well, now that I wrote all that I actually don't even know anymore if I found myself. haha

Good comments, all in all =)

Oh but do you mean that to 'find oneself' would essentially mean to be obsessed with one major thing, to do a thing to the fullest - in the sense of going to the extreme? (Personally, I can't say because I never quite felt a need to find myself - as far as I can remember, I've had a clear inner vision about myself and my life, so the question has been more about finding ways to combine my inner visions with the contemporary society I find myself living in =) )

And, another question - taking it back to this blog entry; does 'to find oneself' mean that is kind of a reaching a clear stage; like in a computer game reaching level 3 or something =) Or could it be more like a process, a journey without a definite end? For example, the way I understand Mariska's career, she started with finding herself as a rapper, one of the first female rappers in Finland. As she kept on doing that, writing rap became to look more like a medium of writing lyrics. Mariska started to see herself more as a lyrics writer in general, and there were years when she didn't perform herself, but wrote a lot of lyrics for other artist. Until she again felt an inner need to get back to performing herself - and so on. All these shifts and turns, to me they look like necessary steps in the process of 'finding oneself', so to say =) It is just that once you find yourself as any 'not A, not B, but C kind of a person', being honest to that C, you might find your journey taking you to unpredictable places, all of which make you to redefine the way you see C, and the way you see yourself as a 'C kind of person'

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