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More dancing, less depression

After my previous blog post about dance and depression I felt I need to write a follow-up post after a yet another weekend of dancing. So, here goes;

Dedicated to Sanna "Litku" Klemetti & her bandmates and their friends
and to everyone I met on my weekend trip to Kontufolk festival

I wanted to see Litku Klemetti and the band, so on Friday I drove six hours to get to Kontufolk festival in the countryside of South-East Finland, near Russian border. As I don't like to drive long distances alone, I used the festival's facebook event to find a person who needed a ride. So, right from the beginning, I also wanted to break my rather autistic bubble of dancing alone in my own inner world; this time I also wanted to meet people, to open up and to communicate. And, indeed, it was a rather pleasant experience to drive together with someone I haven't met before. There was plenty of time to discuss life, music, burn-out, weakness and strength and all that which makes life humane.

It was the first time at Kontufolk for both of us, and when we got there we found the place absolutely adorable; it was not a big commercial festival, so the overall atmosphere was cosy and friendly. In addition to the festival barn the place had a swimming pond, a small sauna, hammocks and a tent for people to rest and relax. As I was setting up my tent at the forest edge near the pond, I heard the festival DJ / announcer's voice on the loudspeakers, and immediately recognized him as one of my friends. So it was nice to know that among the 300 or so of festival-goers there were some people I know. Friday evening had a handful of good bands. I'd like to especially name Lada Nuevo. They are originally from Siberia, and with their slavic swing they got the crowd dancing wildly.

But there would be so many good bands to mention, and so many funny and meaningful little details to recall, and I'm afraid this blog post would grow long and boring would I try to pour all of my intertwined memories here. So let me leave a lot unsaid, and just to pick four special moments;

It was Saturday noon, we had enjoyed a breakfast, a philosophical discussion and a live gig at a nearby bar. A man I didn't know came to talk with me, saying that it has been a delight to watch me dancing. That got us into a nice discussion about dancing - how most of us Finns are concerned how our moves look like, as if there was an internal sense of shame and self-control built into our culture. And for me dancing has been a method of self-therapy; I started from a point where any spontaneous movement of hips sent me into a panic attack, but I wanted to regain my bodily sense of presence. So I forgot all of what my moves look like, and focused on how it feels like. Dancing alone at my home, working through the weight of traumatic bodily memories to re-find joy and freedom of bodily movement. (At some point I started to shoot videos and to post them on facebook. As a 'shame-therapy', as every time after posting a video I felt a wave of shame, thinking that my moves probably look so very stupid and silly. One of those videos was shot to the opening track of Litku Klemetti's latest album). I realized that over the years I've developed such a sense of 'dance as if no-one is watching', that I feel surprised every time someone mentions that they've actually seen me dance - and that some of the inner energy comes through, delivering the sense of freedom; the freedom to be the person you feel that you are. The freedom to express your emotions with spontaneous bodily movement. So, for me dancing is not about 'oh look at my moves', but all about 'hey, let's all feel free to move as the music feels like'.

Later on Saturday night it was Faarao Pirttikangas & Kuhmalahden Nubialaiset playing. I had been dancing with all what I got, and after their show I collapsed on a bench, sweating all over and breathing heavily. Someone said something - I couldn't recognize the words as my ears were humming, and I couldn't see clearly as sweat got into my eyes - but all I understood was a warm friendly voice, and I was handed a pea pod. Apparently, someone wanted to give me something, and that pea pod happened to be at hand. It made me extremely glad, I took it as a form of positive feedback from a stranger. When I danced, there was a tiny nagging voice somewhere in the back of my mind, drawing its power from the weight of memories, telling me that my silly uncontrolled moves are probably making fellow people annoyed and they'd prefer me to stand still in a controlled manner so that I don't disturb their experience. I let that voice to be there, and just danced anyway. So that pea pod in my hand proved that nagging voice wrong. The peas tasted so good, and made me think about my own tendency to just withdraw into my inner world - but if positive feedback from random strangers feels this good, what about being a bit more active myself? If I like people around me, it probably won't hurt if I express it more clearly?

After the Litku Klemetti show I sat outdoors with my DJ friend and his friends. At some point one more friend joined the circle, saying that she had just bought a T-shirt from Litku herself. She mentioned how in such situation one often finds oneself out of words; facing the artist you admire you suddenly feel that all you can say is either stupid or worn-out clichés. So you end up saying 'a good show, thanks!'. Oh well, I thought to myself - I always have this feeling that I want to respect the privacy of the artist. Sure, somewhere in my mind I had a lot of warm wishes for those normal human beings who on the stage turn into Litku Klemetti & the band. Like - to me their schedule for this summer seems to be rather fully packed, and that I wish they'll have enough time to recover and to recharge. And that the band publicity suddenly skyrocketing, with all the interviews and everything probably comes with a lot of emotional stuff to process - especially as in her private life Sanna 'Litku' Klemetti is more like a bit shy introvert. WIth all of these thoughts I went to buy a T-shirt also, knowing that I'm just an anonymous fan who doesn't want to disturb the privacy of the artist, so sure I will just go according to the social script of 'one T-shirt please, and your show was great, thanks!'. I tried that, but Litku looked back at me and asked "don't you happen to be the person who made that great funny video?". That broke the script, and as I'm a bit shy introvert, I really didn't know what to say - expect to express my genuine happiness to hear that my video has fulfilled its purpose by spreading joy. For a short moment we exchanged a few lines, probably both feeling 'outside the script', still a little euphoric after the show, and already starting to feel tired and wanting to retreat into the safety of ones familiar zone of solitude.

Sunday morning, for the drive back home, my car was fully packed with people and their luggage. Everyone was happy yet sleepy after partying hard. But with some coffee, good company and music I felt alert enough to drive safely, and there was a warm family-like sense of togetherness.

... and those were the four special moments I wanted to tell. In addition to these, on my weekend trip I had so many good discussions and moments of sharing that they left me with an emotional process bubbling under the surface. It took a few days until a conclusion emerged from that process. To put simply, the conclusion is that I'm ready to clearly and openly express that my own private home is open for an extended sphere of friends. So this goes for everyone I met last weekend, including Sanna Klemetti and the rest of the band, and all of your friends, significant others and related people. Or basically anyone reading this (or anyone you want to share this post with). All the introverts, all the creative souls, anyone struggling with depression or burn-out. If any of you, at some point, feel like you'd need a little break from the rest of the world, my semi-hermit hut welcomes friends and strangers to stay for a day or two.

For most of my life I've struggled with recovering from a cocktail of major depression, burn-out and some sort of personality disorder. But that has learnt me how to be around with people with similar issues. Or, more generally, as much as my own energy level allows, I like to show patience, acceptance and support towards anyone visiting my place. And that I like silly little things like a garden bath and midnight rowing adventures to nearby islets. Sometimes, in their own crises, some of my friends crash at my place - either for someone who listens to them, or for just the general atmosphere of acceptance where you don't need talk if you are too tired for that. I'm okay with friends just hiding under the blanket and sleeping the day away, I will cook food and offer gentle emotional support. (There are no pictures nor blog posts about such visits, for the obvious reason of protecting the privacy of other people.) But this is just a background, for mostly it is about the lighter side of life.

So, if any of you would like to stay a few days at my semi-hermit home in the Finnish woods, reading, writing or drawing - that is fine, I'm happy to cook food and to provide the space for creative work. Feel a need to dance on the garden table? - welcome, that's the way I like it. Or just to rest for a few days. To wander in the woods. To have unhurried discussions about life, philosophy or personal matters. Or to climb onto rooftop to celebrate life.

Oh, all of my friends who have been visiting my home over the years - once again; Thank You so much for bringing all that light, joy and togetherness to my life!

Hehe - again, at this point I start to feel that this post will probably sound silly, clumsy and badly written. But I will post it anyway, before I start to over-think =) But just to gather my thoughts; for years I've been thinking that sometime in the future (when the house renovation project is more complete, when I have more stable income, when I have fully recovered from chronic depression, when this or that...) I'd like to find ways to share my home with friends and strangers. Maybe to build a small extra cabin to rent for minimal price to people doing scientific or creative work, or to anyone who is recovering from burn-out or depression. And now I realized that this has already been happening, so all that I need to do is to accept and to announce the way things are. Also, this is one of the blog posts without an expiration date - if you happen to read this years later, or if the things said here pop into your mind in some distant future, feel free to find a way to contact me to ask if it is okay to come for a visit. I hope that as the years go by I will be able to renovate and to build more accommodation space - but what I realized this weekend is that things are already good enough the way they are now. No need to wait for things to become perfect - the life takes place now and here.

And, all in all, this is the direction I love to see my life moving to; more dancing, less depression.

Kontufolk festival area
Kontufolk festival area
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I went back and read your last post before reading this one, and was about to comment there, but came back to this post first. From the previous post:
"Like the very existence is a burden to be carried. Like making any contact with anything feels like deliberately laying your hand onto a red hot iron, so you prefer to avoid any contact with anything and end up feeling empty and isolated from life itself."
Your description here was very evocative for me and helped me better frame some anxiety/depression I find myself hiding from at times. I just wanted to share that your writing was helpful for my own processing,

Every once in a while my random checking on on URW development brings me to read a few of your posts. I think I probably feel some small piece of what you felt talking to that artist, that I just want to quietly say thank you and not make a big deal. But I can't overstate the impact seeing the work you have done, and the parts of your life you have shared, has had on me. I see and hear you thinking in ways that connect with my own, and I am grateful for these moments when it is late at night, I'm trying to find something to occupy myself with, and I spend some time reading your writing. Through those times, I gain a little more focus and understanding of myself.

I have no idea if I'd ever be near enough for it to have any sense (and the internal voice says to me "you might not be one of them!"), but thanks for even saying that your door is open. I wish you the best.

Thank You - this kind of feedback always is so valuable for me. As I'm not writing to make money, not to become famous, not to reach a wide audience - but hoping to write something which is meaningful and resonates with an unknown yet very real person reading somewhere out there.

And sure, my door is open for friends and strangers alike. To be honest, I do have a short, unwritten list of people who aren't that welcome - they are people who have repeatedly behaved in a disrespectful manner, or people who think that manipulation and negative pressure are valid ways of making others do what they'd like to see others doing. It is such people I simply don't have inner energy to deal with; my home is a lot about having a sphere of safety where I don't have to interact with such manipulate or disrespectful energies. But, by default, I suppose people who'd like to visit my place aren't disrespectful.

Oh well. On the broader scale, to me it seems that varying forms of anxiety and depression are rather common - at least in our Western culture (I haven't checked the recent international figures to see what is the global trend). And surprisingly often it still seems that the standard interpretation is that it is a question of personal weakness - that the problem is within the person and (s)he needs to be healed back to normal again. Not to deny that aspect, but I'd also ask if there are some features in our society, culture and tradition which contribute towards individuals falling depressed. What about merely focusing on those individuals we'd also see if we could use some cultural evolution to make the overall culture less toxic, in a way or another. But, sure, this is a big theme and in the coming weeks I'll probably write a blog post or two about this overall perspective.


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