Day 25 - Finland
Another day started and no big plans ahead. I was feeling I had been taken back to Brazil, since I didn’t have to worry about anything like airports and which restaurant I should have my meals. The weather was surprisingly not cold. OK, -1oC is not that hot, but I was expecting -25oC, -30oC and I couldn’t believe the forecast was telling us we would even have positive temperatures in the next days. It had been colder in Prague! Anyway, we had some things to do that day. First we would visit Sheela’s parents. They were traveling the other time I was there and this time I would have the opportunity of meeting them. Next, we would visit some kids she was looking after.
We drove for about 40 minutes to get to where her parents were living. The first person we met was her mother and we started talking right away. She was a very nice lady and we had no problems breaking the ice. I gave her one of the gifts I had taken from Brazil.
Her father was walking the dog and we had to wait for him to come home. The lunch was very tasty and I remember we had lemon pie as dessert and it was delicious. One of my top desserts.
We talked about Brazil and Finland and many other things. We left as the day was getting darker, which was about 3pm. I still couldn’t believe we had so much of the day ahead and it was already dark.
We drove some more and went to a house where we would visit some kids Sheela had a connection with. Let me try to explain what I understood of it: Sheela works as a school counselor or something like that, she is responsible for following a group of students’ academic performance and she has meetings with them to talk about school and family and everything else. One of her protégés (in lack of a better term to define it), in fact two kids, a boy and his sister, had gone through a bad time at home. They were taken from their home to a shelter and Sheela was trying to take them to her house so that they wouldn’t suffer so much in a strange place and all. She was doing whatever she could but paperwork was getting on the way. She told me all the case and I felt a bit disappointed because I somehow expected Finland to be less buroucratic and more humane than Brazil, since it has the best education level of the world. However, paperwork and abuse seem to be something universal, and why should we make things easier if we can complicate them? These stories put me in contact with sorrow and hopelessness, something I had never associated with Finland. Naivité of mine? Maybe. But I had hoped people would be happier there than here, since they would have more means to emotionally cope with the problems (despite the fact they are one of the top 10 countries with more suicides in the world). I opened my eyes and understood a little bit that being educated and having intelligence don’t mean people are emotionally prepared to deal with the contradictions and craziness of our modern existence. And I remembered what I had read in Herbert Marcuse when he said that: “the revolutionizing of the instinctual structure is a prerequisite for a change in the systems of needs” (in his The Aesthetic Dimension). Plainly speaking, we have to change the way we feel to be able to live in a different society where suffering would be minimized and we would work for the common good and in the development of a just society.
So, we visited the kids and I talked to the boy. We went for a walk in a half-lit road, you could see the lights of a house or two in the distance. He was a bit suspicious of my presence but Sheela’s warmth succeeded in breaking any barrier he might be putting up. We ended up playing together, trying to hit a snowball on Sampo’s head with other snowballs.
After that, we headed home and while Sampo stayed there, Sheela and I visited a house of two very strange people who had bought some of the products Sheela was selling and she needed to collect. Finally, we arrived home but before we bought some pizzas in a pizzaria near the apartment. The pizza was very different from the ones we have here, but I took no picture of it.
Again, Jussi came and the boys went to the football while Sheela and I went to her bedroom to talk and she showed me the cosmetic products she was representing. She gave me a facial treatment. I bought some products, to bring as a gift. We spent hours talking about the kids, about how unfair life could be and how people were sad, wherever they lived.
I hoped then I didn’t have any dreams for fear of imagining a world so bare, so illogical, so cruel, and so much as ours. In a certain way, I was sad by that but I was also happy. Hadn’t I had the chance of traveling, of being foreign, totally stranger? However, I was supported in every way by people who loved me and made everything to make my short stay a comforting experience. With these mixed feelings of gratitude and sorrow (for those whose lives seemed to be falling apart) I closed my eyes and dove into the darkness.