When they say that a man is a social animal, I am not 100% sure it applies to Finnish folks.
In fact, I have often wondered why the very first settlers ever decided to stay. It is pretty damn obvious that they must have arrived here sometime between July the 15th and the day on which Jaakko throws the cold rock into the lake*), on one of those lucky indian summers where you get more than just the midnight sun and your hair actually dries between the “occasional” showers. They must have dragged their boat ashore and after an awkward silence, one of them must have said …
“[Grunt] eh, this isn’t too bad”.
And that would have been the extent of the conversation.
You see, I think our ancestors were banished from one of those Mediterranean countries where the people are hairy, the coffee is strong, family comes first, village comes second, and it is delightfully warm all the time. So, I’m pretty sure that all the villages over there used to have a village grump or two. You know, some bearded lumbersexuals, a squinty-eyed woman with too many secrets (& herbs), or a hermit that never got the hang of the local language and continued to order the espresso in grunts. Isn’t it quite plausible that at some point the jolly beach people of the future Riviera and Ibiza decided to gather up all these sourpusses, put them on a strong and study boat and … well, then gave the boat a hearty push.
Well, thanks for the all the hair, at least. I’m not sure how useful it is while floating around in the Mediterranean Sea, but it’s probably what kept those poor bastards alive when the first summer turned into a soggy autumn and finally to a blood-curdling white-out of a winter.
Enter SNOW. “[Grunt] What fresh hell is this?”
Finnish people, not the most sociable lot, they say. I’m pretty certain that the village grumps scattered minutes after the boat touched the shores of my homeland and lived on to establish the major towns of my beautiful country, … which is also why the names of our towns often sound like swearwords (Tampere!)
But that’s all imaginary history. Today, there is a thought that has been haunting my waking hours. And the thought is this: without a tribe, I shall perish. Without a herd, I will forever be a lonely nerd. The thought is saying that these imaginary ancestors were dead wrong. Hermitry is not an option. The lone wolf is a dead wolf **) Much like our ancestors, the lone wolf cried at the moon. Alone. (Have you heard any of our popular songs, btw? Very much the same thing.)
For a year or so, I have been involved in a social experiment (of my own devising) in which I retained only my 2 best friends and dropped out of any/all social circles I ever knew, yes, even Facebook. I was not invited to any parties, I attended zero girls’ night outs, I got only 2 happy birthday wishes, nobody liked my posts anywhere (including this blog) and you know what … it was oddly liberating.
But the thing is … now I miss having a tribe. So, perhaps even a thoroughbred Finnish woman like myself is a social animal at heart. Maybe the sense of belonging and relatedness outweighs all the friction and noise? Maybe being a loner, the one who doesn’t need anyone, was never the choice.
Could it be, that we, the Finnish, have evolved from village grumps to … just “villagers”? Is this why have somehow managed to become less hairy than the tanned & happy folk who sent us on our way? To be more socially presentable 😀 ?
The trick is, you can not really choose a tribe. The tribe will choose you. And if you are lucky, the tribe is filled with people whose eyes sparkle with the same colour as yours. All I can do is move my hut a little bit closer to the village and see what happens.
**) The legend of the lone wolf is epic, of course (the T-shirts .. not so much), but maybe in real life, the lone wolf wandered around the woodlands and tried to strike up a conversation with the elk and the occasional badger, never really finding kindred spirits with whom to share a toothy laugh and a carcass of two. Also, he was most likely a involuntary vegetarian, settling for moss and bark and pretending it was a tasty rabbit.