This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Deconstructed memories and the flavor of saudade

seashellsIreland, California, Cornwall, and Skye. Posing outside of the frame are Kenya and Amazon. One beach per jar. One memory of a distant shore forever locked up behind glass. I wish we could store memories like Dumbledore: pull them out of heads with a magic wand, and store the wispy silver strings just to be able to dive back in at any time.

Yet the memory itself is only half of the experience. What is as important as the actual place and time is the way we felt there. How fleeting and subtle it envelops us while present in the moment, and how strongly it makes itself present when that moment is long gone. Skye in a jar for me is sheep bleating on green grassy hills, and bouldery shores covered in slippery seaweed with treasures of sea glass and shells lodged in-between the stones. It is the soft warmth of a Scottish July on a rare blue-skied day, and the feeling that we are by the edge of the world and it is going to be alright.

The last component of a memory is the nostalgic imprint of what once was. Portuguese has a word for it, too: “saudade”. Saudade is the afterglow of love that remains for something that was and may never come back again.

Perhaps my glass jars cannot store memories. Yet, locked inside is a different flavor of distilled saudade. And it is not necessary to open a jar to let the saudade take a quick spin past my heart.

(Helsinki, Finland; December 2014)


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This experience junkie

goodbyeSo much to see on this blue marble, and so little time in a lifetime. I once owned a book called “501 must-visit islands”, a beautiful little thing that used to give me equal amounts of inspiration as anxiety. You see, in a dark hour I calculated that even if I visited two islands every year I would need to live for 250 years to see them all. And then there would be the 501 must-visit cities and then the 501 landscapes and sacred places and beaches…. Human time is too short even for a full-time explorer.

As it happened, that book wandered out through the door together with my previous life. And so here below is a compilation of things this experience junkie has had the time to see, feel, touch, and hear. Perhaps it is soon complete – perhaps it is just the beginning.

1. Ate cow’s stomach, jellyfish soup, snake, and reindeer heart (I’m actually vegetarian)
2. Stood on top of the Christo Redentor, the Eiffel tower, the Empire State building, the Sagrada  Familia church, the Kuala Lumpur Tower, and the observatories on La Palma.
3. Fished piranhas and ate aquarium fish
4. Stood on the roof above a mosque in a holy city listening to the prayer call
5. Swam with wild pink dolphins in the Amazon
6. Got bitten by a fish and a seagull and petted baby manatees
7. Climbed a volcano
8. Snow shoed in the Rockies
9. Visited micro countries: the Vatican, San Marino, and Liechtenstein
10. Went to two former “ends of the world”: Sagres, Portugal; and El Hierro, the Canary islands
11. Wandered in catacombs
12. Got pick-pocketed in Barcelona
13. Rode a camel in the Sahara and horseback in Hollywood hills
14. Drove around the mountains in the world’s most unsafe car with failing brakes (Tata Indica), steered a Tunisian horse cart, and rode in a gondola
15. Met a locally famous Sami (Lappish) rap artist and talked about reindeer farming
16. Danced ceilidh in Scotland and samba in Rio
17. Saw the Pink Floyd ballet at La Scala in Milan
18. Went to three gold-rush time saloons in California, one which had the ceiling pinned full with dollar bills
19. Saw the Stonehenge, Callanish, the Temple of Heaven, St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Vatican, and Bhaktapur holy city in Nepal
20. Practised ashtanga yoga at sunrise on Crete
21. Slept in a cave full of bats and in a floating house above huge caymans
22. Stood on a hilltop with India in one horizon and Tibet in the opposite horizon
23. Tracked dolphins deep in the Amazon and in the Indian Ocean.

Live today.

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Winter solstice

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Cold cold cold on Christmas Day. This is how high the sun is in Southern Finland at 2 pm, 4 days after winter solstice. I am happy we do see the sun once in a while, even if it usually happens on bitterly cold days. Because further up north, Day took a vacation until later in 2015.

(Loviisa, Finland; December 2014)