October 22, 2020
Finding My Sisu
The only thing louder than the pounding rain above my head was the crash of thunder that quickly followed. A tentative pat around my surroundings confirmed that, for the time being at least, I was still dry.
I closed my eyes again. All is well and I am safe, I repeated to myself. Sleep felt a long way off.
I’m a city-dweller by nature but something quite different happens to me when I’m taken out of my urban environment and into the wilderness. It’s not a side of me that many often see, typically reserved for my family when we settle into the quiet isolation of the Finnish countryside, as we do most summers.
The landscape around Six Mile Lake Provincial Park felt very familiar for this reason, although my Wilderness Trip with Origin Travels was my first time there. I’d collect my city alter-ego somewhere down the 400 South to Toronto but, for the time being, I was steeped in my Finnish heritage.
Sisu is an untranslatable Finnish word that emulates a kind of resilience and stoic determination that we consider to be a huge part of our national identity. Being Finnish on my mother’s side, with her coming from a line of incredibly strong and resourceful women, it’s also always felt like a large part of my identity as a woman.
Sisu woke me in the morning to clamber out of my soggy tent and breathe the clear air. Sisu kept me warm as I plunged into the crisp lake water. Sitting by the fire under a blanket of stars that night, sisu hummed through my veins, that deep connection to my ancestry and my personal identity.
It was only when I walked back into my apartment, slipping back into my city skin, that I noticed the dirt between my toes or how strongly I smelled like woodsmoke.
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