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A train story

For a background to this train story, let's first tell a short epilogue to the library story. At our local cinema, The Martian had just finished, the credits started to scroll. And everybody else got up and left the theatre. I'm the one who'd like to watch through the credits, enjoying the afterglow of a movie experience, and curious to see if there is a post-credit scene or something. But while the credits were still scrolling, I found myself following the others. I don't know exactly why, as in my hermit state of mind I didn't feel any such a group bonding with the others, no, on the contrary I felt more like being isolated inside my bubble of personal space. But since the theatre is a small one, and we weren't that many people watching the movie, I felt uneasy about being the only one still sitting there, waiting for a possible post-credit scene which might not exists. There was a vague thought in my mind that maybe the staff want to finish their work for the day and get back to their homes, so I don't want to be the one causing them any extra delay. Well, honestly, I don't know - it felt more like my body navigating with an autopilot mode, choosing to go with the others instead of being left behind.

Yesterday early in the morning I drove to Tampere, and boarded a train to Helsinki. Just to meet my friends. For a past few days I've felt more open and energetic, so I felt like temporarily abandoning the hermit bubble of my home. And I intentionally contacted both my friends and some nice people who I haven't met before, or haven't seen for a long time. In a way, meeting new people is always a fresh situation - there aren't yet any ready-made expectations on how to behave and what topics to discuss, and it has often been a challenging situation for me - all too easily I'd just slip into repeating the old ways of hiding my inner self, not really being present in the situation but just waiting for the moment to escape back into the safety of solitude. I think my own life would be a bit more enjoyable and nice the more I get rid of unnecessary hiding and learn to relax in social situations.

After five minutes the train stopped. There was an announcement telling that we are experiencing technical troubles, and that the driver went to inspect. Apparently it was something the driver was able to sort out, as after a while the train started again, and on we went. The train was supposed to arrive at Helsinki at around midday, and I had agreed to meet my friends at 2 pm, so it wouldn't be a problem for me if the train runs late. After a while there was an another announcement, and it started with "Hey passengers, hold onto your seats!" - everybody was alerted, it sounded a bit like we are going to crash into something. But, luckily it was the opposite - something in the train controls kept freezing, and caused the engine to automatically to brake to halt. Again, the driver went to re-boot the systems, and we made it to the next station. There they gave an another announcement, telling that the passengers have two options to choose on - either to stay on this train, as they try to make it all the way to Helsinki but they can't guarantee how long it will take - or then leaving the train and boarding the next train to Helsinki, which will stop at this station after fifteen minutes. I thought to myself that since I'm not hurried, I can just stay on board and see how it goes. Most of the other passengers left the train, and only a handful of people stayed.

New passengers from the station tried to board the train, but they gave an announcement telling them not to take the risk. And, apparently, they also locked the doors to prevent new passengers from boarding. So, the handful of us still inside the train found ourselves trapped inside a train. The whole situation was unusual, and already after the first announcement I saw some passengers commenting the situation with their unknown fellow passengers. Yes, in Finland we have this rather common habit of not to talk with strangers in public transport. But it is unusual situations like this, which break the habit and make the unknown people to pay attention to each other. And, indeed, as a member of a random bunch of people trapped inside a broken train, I was also discussing the situation with the others. Should we go seek for train personnel, asking them to let us out? Or just stay seated and hope that eventually the train will start and we will make it to Helsinki? Or are we desperate enough to knock the windows, hoping to catch the attention of station personnel so that they could help us escape the train? I suggested we all go to the restaurant compartment, and ask the train company to offer us free coffee / tea as a compensation for the inconvenience. But before we were able to reach a conclusion, there was a new announcement; they had decided to cancel this train, so we won't be leaving the station anytime soon. They kindly asked all the remaining passengers to board the next train. And they opened the doors, letting us out.

Out at the platform I noticed that we had formed a group of four passengers - a couple bit older than I am, me, and a violinist. In the first train we were seated in adjacent seat rows, so maybe that made us to stick together. I wondered if the next train will be full of people, if it will be possible to find seats, or if we end up standing on the aisles. The lady of the elder couple was anxious to relocate, somehow she thought that an another place would give us better changes to find seats in the new train. At first her husband didn't want to go, he preferred to stay with our freshly formed spontaneous group. But apparently the lady didn't feel such a herd bonding, so she left without her husband, which made the husband to change his mind - he followed his wife, and I considered the group disbanded. Which was not a problem for me, I was more like back to the normal "don't interact with the strangers" - mode. The new train arrived at the station, I started heading towards the last cars thinking that they are likely to have less passengers than the ones in the middle. And I noticed the violinist walking near me, and unintentionally I switched back to herd mode - soon we were communicating which door to choose. No words were used, it was all just body language. We ended up in the restaurant compartment of the new train, sharing a table. We exchanged couple of comments about the situation, and then returned into our typical Finnish bubbles of personal space. The violinist was reading a book, I wrote a letter to my friends. And, in a way, I felt it nice to share a table with a stranger. It was a bit like surviving an unusual and somewhat worrying situation, and subconsciously seeking the safety of ones own herd, sticking together with the others.

After finishing a passage of my letter, I put the pen and paper aside and consciously decided to break the silence. After all, the whole purpose of my trip was to meet people, to deliberately put myself into situations where I don't need to hide my inner personality, but where I can share with the others. To learn to relax in the presence of other people, to learn to show my true personality, to learn more about enjoying social situations. So I asked the violinist if she'd like to have tea or coffee, as I for one need a mug of coffee. At first she declined, saying that we will soon be at Helsinki so there isn't such a need to pass time - but then she remembered something and suggested me to bring just two mugs of hot water. I did, and the violinist gave me a packet of herbal infusion to be mixed with the hot water. There we were, sipping our warm drinks and sharing our thoughts and feelings. And I very much enjoyed the atmosphere of the situation - we didn't introduce each other, we didn't change contact information, as we both knew that we are not going to meet again and there is not a need to break the anonymity. Our brief discussion was quite like poetry - sharing the fleeting expressions of how it feels to be travelling to Helsinki.

Well, my actual stay at Helsinki was packed with more of extremely enjoyable discussions and nice social situations. Once again, there might be many interesting themes to write about, kind of a continuing live conversations in a written format. But for now I choose not to do so. In the late evening I boarded a train back to Tampere, and arrived there at midnight. (EDIT: While travelling back to Tampere, half asleep in a train, I thought about this particular piece of music.) I headed to my friends' place, where my car was parked. After sleeping tight and sharing a morning coffee with pleasant chat, I drove back home.

The weather was fine, and after taking care of some basic household chores I decided to go for a walk with the horses. For a while I thought how to arrange it - yes the horses get along pretty well, but they prefer not to walk right next to each other. So, if I'm walking in front of them, having a lead rope in each hand, the horses somehow manage to follow me, constantly trying to balance their need for personal space with what the length of a lead rope allows. I decided that it is time to see if Monica will follow us without a rope. Thinking of my own experience of herd movement when boarding the new train with the violinist, I thought that sure a horse as a herd animal will choose to stay with the herd instead of running away all alone. So I put their halters on, and swung Monica's lead rope around her neck, and tied the other end of the rope to the halter. In a way she was carrying her lead rope on her neck, in case I need to grab back the rope to lead her. (With late Velmu I often just diconnected the rope, trusting that if need be, I can call Velmu and re-attach the rope). We left the yard, I was leading Raiku and Monica went carrying her rope.

Soon there was a place where electric lines cross the road we were on. Monica wanted to go exploring the area under the electric lines, leaving the road. Raiku stopped, not willing to continue forwards without her fellow horse. I gently told Raiku that I'm in a leading position; instead of following others, I make the decisions where to go, and the others will follow me. And that it is same with Raiku and Monica, as Monica respects Raiku's leadership, there is no need to follow Monica if she takes an another route. So, we stood still for a while, and since I was carrying pieces of carrot, I offered one to Raiku. That encouraged her to follow me, and as soon as we took couple of steps onwards, Monica turned around and ran after us. We went walking up and down a path in the woods, and returned back to the small road. On we went, and after a while Monica again offered to take an another route. Again Raiku stopped standing still, turning her ears around following the sounds of Monica moving. But this time Raiku agreed to follow me, even without a carrot as a reward. We walked on, and pretty soon Monica decided that she doesn't want to be left behind, so she ran to join her herd.

Now, I don't know if this makes sense to anyone who hasn't experienced similar kind of problems with social sharing. But I remember that earlier in my life I've had serious problems with being honestly present with the horses - just like with fellow humans. Like, of course my body is there, but a large portion of my mind seems to be elsewhere, lost in the closed sphere of distant thoughts, not really opening up to share the presence with other beings. And the horses, they sense and react to that kind of stuff. Now I saw couple of times Raiku showing signs of bonding - she momentarily sped up to walk nearer to me, gently touched my arm with her nostrils, and then resumed her position walking behind me. That's like saying "it's nice to be here with you" in horse language.

All in all, it has been en extremely nice and refreshing weekend!

Walking a path
Walking a path
On our way back to home
On our way back to home
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Horses are awesome. I wonder if you have wild horses up there as we do in southern Oregon. I started with horses a couple years ago after moving to the 'backwoods' of Oregon from Michigan. I spent a couple days near a cattle ranch with a round pen and a trailer of hay and caught some wild ones for the ranch and one that we brought home. It turns out she(Ruby) was pregnant from the herd stallion(I called him Smokey Joe) and gave birth this past March 31 to a wonderful little colt(Finnegan). There is so much to learn about herd dynamics, respect of personal space, non-verbal communication/body language. This entry of your blog is the only entry we've read so far. Can totally relate.

Hello there, Brian, Linda, Ruby and Finnegan!

We don't have wild horses in Finland. Theoretically speaking, I think a herd of wild horses might barely survive a Finnish winter, but our farming tradition has never been favourable for that first flock of wild horses to emerge.

Working with mustangs sounds awesome! I wish you all the best, happy adventures and learning together.

Ah, and in case you'd like to read more of my horse stories, you can use the "List texts tagged as" selection in the Blog entries-menu, and choose "horses". Although, everything I've written is just reflection on my own path with the horses - I don't think I could teach anyone anything, I'm just sharing the way I experience the world, and always open for comments and discussion =)

Hehe, I've been thinking about writing a fresh blog entry about communication and personal space - but at the moment I'm busy with my main work, so I'll postpone my blogging for several days or something. Still, for some reason, one of my older entries popped into my mind, if you are interested in this kind of ponderings =)

While reading this entry, a tought crossed my mind: what MBTI type personality must Erkka be? xD This tought crossed my mind because I share similar feelings/behavior regarding social interactions, and the train situation and social approach made me remeber myself. For a long time I had problems and complex accepting my out of norm social approach, because I was allways a lot introverted, and when I need to social interact it is to me like an dificult challenge and it take it like an experiment to learn it better, I allways feel like I am inside my brain in a deep distant room/field, watching and interacting to people from a distance, not fully there, and I prefer 80% of time solitude. One day I read about the MBTI test (it is like a chart that divides people in 16 personality types - it is like astrology psychology version, made by Junge and his wife. This test is very famous on the internet, a lot of websites and youtube channels share things about it). I never liked this kind of approaches, to divide people in different types, because I think each one is unique. But this test result was very good to know myself, because it made me feel more normal, I realized that being introverted and feeling this social awkwardness was normal after wall, and there was more people like me. I steel think that each one is unique, but this kind of personality divisions test was handy to know more about me, by reading and thinking if it fits me or not I know more about my boundaries. My type resulted INFP out of the 16 types, I I think yours is close to that (INFT or close?). I wounder if you have done this test ever and know your type, only out of curiosity. Is ask this out of the blue dumb curiosity, only because I know that you read about psychology stuff and post it in your blog, so maybe you already know this, or you are interested, since you share similar social challeges as me. If you never done this test, here is an example: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
If you never read about this, give it a try, it is interesting, with me it was accurate and a good reflection, was good to know more about my social awkwardness and challenges xD
PS: That website is good for the test, but not the best for the description of each type of personality (to simple), if find this one better: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/index.shtml

Hehe, maybe I finally have to take the test =) I've seen it every here and there, but I've never taken the test myself. I've got a heap of assorted things to be done this weekend, but when time allows I'll try to do to test and to write a new blog entry about my thoughts on it.

For today, just a quick note. Personally, I don't remember a single moment in my life that I would have felt that I'm somehow wrong because I'm not normal. Oh, no. Since early childhood I always felt that the normal is broken and not desirable. So I haven't been concerned if I'm like the others or not. I just started with a situation which clearly doesn't work, and I've been trying to find something which would work. Knowing that the quest will most likely take me to places which aren't normal in the sense of being shared with the majority of people.

I think this sometimes causes a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings - when I talk about some of my own stuff, the other people sometimes seem to assume that I disapprove myself for not being normal, and that the remedy would be just to accept myself and to think that there is nothing wrong in being slightly different. And then I'm like "where did that come from? what are these people talking about? that doesn't relate to anything I said." - but then I realize that this is just the normal, the typical way of feeling. And that's why people easily assume that I feel the same.

Hehe, but this being said - I find it perfectly understandable and acceptable if some other people have had insecure feelings about not-being-like-the-others. In a way, for a herd animal like us humans, it is rather natural to feel that way. And in that case, indeed, the remedy often is to find stuff which helps one to feel that there are more alike people out there - it just that they are sometimes hard to find, if the crowd is noisy and the different ones keep away from the crowds =)

And, in any case, it seldom hurts to find psychological insights and ideas which help to make sense of ones own inner world.

Finally, more jokingly: I've always felt that psychological personality tests are a lot like those astrological personality readings. Interesting, entertaining, sometimes surprisingly accurate, sometimes providing good insights, but after all somehow naive and not very well scientifically grounded. Moreover, reading against the western tradition of astrology, I'm Gemini, and I'm the stereotypical Gemini personality. In some occasions I can be terribly shy and introvert, and the second after that people see me leaping around and expressing myself with shameless extrovert joy. I'm rather happy with my little, uneventful hermit life in the woods, and at the same time I feel my life being full of phantasy and adventures. I'm never "this" nor "that", but always "this/that at the same time". So that's why I'm cautious towards psychological personality tests - my star sign is Gemini and it says that my personality will never fit into a single description =)

EDIT: Ps. Just for the sake of clarity: In this comment, the part "I think this sometimes causes a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings..." doesn't refer to Paulo's comment. Although I'm replying to Paulo's, I'm just letting out this feeling I've often encountered elsewhere. Paulo's comment is different; he honestly describes the way he has experienced his own things, and doesn't make strong assumptions about my personal stuff. And that's the way of communication I pretty much like. We can all talk, and talk about ourselves, in such a way that it doesn't prevent us from listening to others. As, talking without listening is useless, and actual communication takes place only when we talk and listen, listen and talk. (the way I see it, making a lot of quick and strong assumptions about others is an obstacle to real listening)

I share the same view regarding psychological personality tests and astrologie: they feel the same. My approach is just as a curiosity, not something to take very serious. In fact, in my case, I allays tended to be very skeptical with both. Even with psychology itself and it's approach, the idea of finding patterns and dividing human beings in separated box's of behavior, I was never very fond of it, because I think each person is unique in its own way, and psychological approach make me feel like a pre-determined robot, I prefer some chaos when it comes to finding out my personality xD But this is just my personal feeling about it. Regarding this specific test, I only know it for about 1 year, and it is just a curiosity, I shared it only because I am curious to know if it is more or less right with other people like it was with me, to find out if it was a coincidence or not. And mostly, I asked you, because by reading your blog I guess your personality type of the test is close to mine, so was curious if my guess was right or not xD

I always thought that a lot of this kind of tests have a trap: they generalize to much, and talk positive things, and so it is hard to not like what they say about us. I always thought this about these tests and astrologie, but oddly some time ago I bought an old book describing each sign personality, and it focused a lot on the bad side of each person, it was not the usual positive generalized easy words, and it was correct in almost everything, even regarding things like my health and most frequent diseases (100% right about my main healt problems o.O)! It made me go from an astrologie atheist to a curious aghnostic xD Now I try to stay open minded, and I am allways curious to know if other people find their signs to be true to their nature, or if my case was just a coincidence xD PS: out of curiosity my main sign is Capricorn, the ascendant/rising sing is Pisces.

Regarding this specific psychological test, to me it was interesting because it was the first time I read a lot about introversion/extroverted. And it was correct regarding some things and feelings that I normally don't share. It could be coincidence, but was a good reflection/meditation about myself, even the process of disagreeing with some things made a good introspection material, thats why I like to read this stuff, even thought I am skeptical about it.

Regarding misunderstandings when people read your blog, I understand what you mean and I am very aware of that in my daily life. This kind of misunderstandings only reflect what other people feel/are inside, because a lot of times people perceive the world and others trough their own experiences and feelings, a lot of people see the others trough a mirror not trough a window. This kind of misunderstandings mostly shows what goes inside themselfs and how they would feel if they were the protagonist of what they are reading. To me this is a sad existentialist phenomenon and very common as a human being in the daily life, I ask myself a lot of time how deeply I know anyone, or if anyone real knows and loves the real me or just a wrong version of what I real am (some relationships tend to suffer from this phenomenon, after many years people start to realize that they have been loving a false version, made in their heads, of the real other). Because of that I tend to frequently question the image I have of others in my mind, I take it only as blueprint, because I know that it takes a lot to real know anyone. To real know someone one needs to forget ourselfs first, and that is hard sometimes.
A curiosity: the image I have in my mind of you, is someone that is true to himself, even tough did not fit the norm, is at peace with it and himself, and has transcended social difficulties; even tough had/has is own battles his strong and have built a life respecting his principles and his way, true to himself. That is why it is positive to follow your blog, keep true to yourself :) I find our social challenges similar, but not how we deal with them, when I wrote about difficulties and feeling awkward for being different, I was talking only about me. I am still a rookie/apprentice in this field xD

PS: I read again my last comment, and the english is awful!! Sometimes I may want to say one thing, but change the words or wrong spelling and say others not intended - ignore in that cases or when it sounds confusing (my brain tend to change words sometimes, I think in one thing but write other, even in my main language >.<). I switched from windows to ubuntu recently, and have been using Gedit to write (don't have spell check). And when I arrive from work I am too tired and lazy to read twice or search for a spell check, so sorry if my english sounds childish/lazy sometimes xD

Later will read your new post about the test =)

Ah, and I have to honestly thank you for asking about that personality test - among other things, it greatly helped me to formulate some thoughts which have been vaguely circling in my mind. As you say, a personality test can be a problem if one takes it too seriously, but taken with just open-minded curiosity, things like these might be very good reference points.

Also, after all these good comments and nice discussion, inspired by your description of how you feel and experience, I think that the next blog entry I'll write will be more focused about the theme of being honest to ones true inner self - and getting to know the true person of others, being connected and sharing. After all, it has been one of the major topics I've mentioned every now and then in my earlier posts.

Yeah yeah yeah - I root for curiosity and agnosism! =) And absolutely no problem with your English. Actually, I like the way us non-native speakers sometimes write a little broken English. It is bit like dialects in my native language - they are not the clean, perfect, formal general language, but come with local flavour, bringing a lot of colour into the discussion. Thumbs up for gedit!


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