The Fall in Finland was beautiful. Golden daylight, long shadows and good biking all around to be enjoeyd.
But then it came.
It is a world every Finnish person knows by heart. I almost had forgotten what it really meant. Where as the autumn this year was beautiful, filled with unimaginable colours and tranquility, the following months were terrible. Or not even terrible – no – that is not the right word.
It was plainly dull. Grey. Meaningless. The whole southern Finland turns into a dark, desolate wasteland. Everyday, its clouded. Sometimes it rains. Thats actually nice. Change, to a degree at least.
Did I leave the beautiful Alps only to be depressed by this never-ending grey and rain?
I counted that I saw the sun three times in the months of November and December. Makes funny things to your brain.
In our brain, we have these two very similar chemicals, both of which are created from the same amino acid tryptophan. They are called serotonin and melatonin. They both have many uses in our brain chemistry, but to put it simply, melatonin controls your sleep rhythm and serotonin is linked to your mood. More melatonin, you become sleepy. More serotonin, you become happy.
Their secretion is controlled by daylight. Dark light secrets melatonin, and daylight secrets serotonin. I think you can guess, what happens to you chemical balance, if you’ve barely seen the sun in the last two months.
Say hello to our friend, kaamosmasennus – winterblues or seasonal affective disorder. The famous Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius, suffered from the lack of sunlight, too. In a letter to his friend, he writes:
[quote]”Hyvin herkästi tunnen vuodenaikojen ja ilmaston vaihtelut. Pimein aika ennen joulua, siis juuri viikot ennen ja jälkeen syntymäpäiväni, jolloin aurinko painuu yhä alemmas, ovat aina olleet hyvin raskaita. Koulussa en silloin jaksanut pysyä mukana, ja numerot huononivat aina syyslukukauden lopulla.”[/quote]
[quote]”I seem to very sensitive to the changes of you seasonal and climatical changes. The darkest moment before Christmas – the weeks before and after my birthday, when the sun dives ever lower – have always been the harshest for me. In school, I couldn’t keep up, and my grades would always dive with the sun.”[/quote]
I like the darkness, and the wintertime. It gives you time to relax, to hang out in the coziness and warmth of your friends and beloved.
Except that there rarely is time for that. For some reason, the autumn and the weeks before Christmas are the busiest of all in business and education. Why do we want to burn ourselves out in the time, by working in the rat race, when we should be pondering about our lives and cherishing the fruits of years harvest?
I don’t believe in depression as a disorder. Depression is a sign, that something is awry in your life, and you should do something about it. Good. Stop and embrace it, hear what it tries to tell you. And do something about it, if you consider it worthy.
I think Sibelius agrees with me, because even though he suffered from the kaamos, it was also the time of his greatest ideas.
[quote]”Talvisaikana, jolloin päivä on lyhyt, minulla aina on depressiokausi. Olen myös todennut, että ideani tulevat depression aikana, mutta nousun aikoina sen sijaan voin paremmin tehdä varsinaista työtä.”[/quote]
[quote]”During the winter time, when the days are short, I’ve always had a time of depression. I’ve also noted, that my best ideas come during the depression, but only after the sun has risen, can I better work on them.”[/quote]
I also read this interesting article on The Atlantic, The Norwegian Town Where the Sun Doesn’t Rise. In the northern town of Tromsø, where the sun doesn’t rise in the winter, there is almost no cases of seasonal depression.
Well, we wen’t to check out, how the polar night is in the northern Norway, in the peninsula filled with mountains called Lyngen.
And damn, it’s easy not to be depressed, when the skies are filled with the colours of all-ending sunset. The sun paints the valleys with unimaginable shades of blue, violet and gold. In addition, the mountains are filled with light and white powder snow and during the night the northern lights – revontulet – are dancing in the skies presenting just another rich palette of unimaginably beautiful shades of green and violet.
Hell, I wouldn’t be depressed when winters are like this. I would be (and I was) ecstatic!
Enter New Year, and we are heading to Tirol for a couple of weeks to ski and meet new and old friends. Well, the table’s are turned once again. Almost no snow anywhere, only on the glaciers is there something to be skied on. Truly #shitfuck conditions. Days were spent practicing avalanche and crevasse rescue.
First week came and went in hope of snowfall. But nothing came. Then something dropped down from the skies. But it came with the wind – a lot of wind. And the result was this windpack, which would just break down wherever you went. Extremely prone for avalanches. We tried to do little ski tours, but every time we did, we would just loose another avalanche. Fuck.
Well, back to Innsbruck to play some cards and enjoy the beer. Except, now enter influenza. For the last week, I’ve only been laying with fever in bed.
It does get on my nerves. I would love to go outside. To enjoy the mountains even if the snow is shit. But I think there might be a lesson to be learned even here.
You can’t control the weather nor decide if you get sick or not. So why be angry or frustrated about things you can’t choose?
Just enjoy whatever life throws in front you. And be grateful for all the good things and return to them in the moments of sorrow and lethargy.
It is mostly about the attitude, anyways.
P.S. And I heard it’s finally real winter in Finland too. Maybe there is good skiing to be had back home. 😉