Part 2: About being a stranger
Monday morning opens foggy and gray. Other mornings do not wake you up gently, but arrive more like a bit annoyed aunt in an unpleasant party. It is almost certain she didn’t really want to come. But there she stands with a sour face in her uncomfortable dress.
This morning I need to ask myself where to focus in the middle of challenges. It is challenging to be in a new place. It is challenging not to know almost anything or anybody. It is challenging not to be able to explain well who you are, what are you thinking and why did you come here. It is challenging to be spotted everywhere as the unknown stranger.
My third walk starts with the idea of beginnings. I would like to know, what was the beginning of a place that now is called Vinderup. What kind of past times legends and myths have people shared here? Was there a reason why in the logo of the town there is a white stork? Did it bring the first baby, who found this town? Did it lay an egg, and the town was inside there? And how about different beginnings here? How did people start their lives, their relationships or their mornings here? How was the first day with the new dog in the house?
I put on my yellow uniform and get out to hunt yellow paper for my notes. I feel very much spotted, even though it is only a raincoat that I´m wearing. I am spotted as an unknown visitor, maybe arriving from Finland, maybe falling from an unknown planet. H.P. Lovecraft put it in words: The oldest and the strongest fear of human kind, is the fear for the unknown. He based his whole literal production on that wisdom. Another wisdom of a writer comes from Finland. Risto Ahti, an older visionary, a poet once said that the human life in communities is built on the feeling of social morality. We keep the feeling up by holding our horses, avoiding weirdnesses (even dutch people say, don´t be so weird, please!) and trying to behave well in public places. To get rid of that shared control one can do a so called ”hat trick”. It means you need to wear a really strange and an ugly hat at least for three years. No explanations! Just learn to live through the shame and the continuous attention of everyone. In three years you´ll be free to live your life with all your beautiful weirdnesses. And invite even more in. I wonder if the unexplained yellow raincoat could work like a silly hat.
I end up meeting a person, who reminds me of a real fact. An unknown stranger with weird, unclear intentions is not always a welcomed creature. I meet a person, who is not willing at all to talk to me or know anything about the project or the raincoats. I get confused and try to explain in my clumsy Danish about our arrival in Vinderup and apologize him, if my intentions seemed somehow not polite. The conversation doesn´t lead anywhere. I decide to leave and the person after all wishes me good luck.
It feels important to go through this moment and understand how it feels to be a not welcomed stranger, arriving in a new place, barely managing the language. Everyone else seems to be connected and found their teams. World today is full of strangers arriving to north from so many countries, trying to find a safe spot to exist and if lucky, find meaningful meetings, warmth and moments, when someone is willing to share life stories with them.
I feel not ready to meet more humans, at least not yet. I go to park to meet spiders, birds and falling leaves. They tell me it is autumn now. In Danish it is efterår, like a moment that would happen after the year. Like an unknown visitor silently arriving in a dinner party and gathering a plate of left overs, when all the others already went in bed. There is a bird cage in the park, and these flying feather immigrants sing me songs in their own unknown languages.
A journalist has arrived in the hotel to meet us and find out, what in the world are we doing in this little village in our yellow raincoats. Why a small village in West Jylland? I think it is a strange illusion important things would only take place in capitals and in big, crowded cities. Life is meaningful all over, and the size of a community does not define the ingredients of it. Meaningful things can happen in the centers and as well in a periferia. And the periferia becomes a center, when you observe it standing in the middle of it.
The next question is about what we wish to change in this village. How will Vinderup be different, when we leave it? And the honest answer is: an art project will not change the village. But we wish that maybe after our visit people remember, our stories, our memories and life that we have lived has it´s own special poetry. Stories are something connecting us to each other, if we wish so. And we can decide, how and what we share about ourselves. And maybe at some moment, someone dedicates two extra minutes to listen to the neighbor’s story. Maybe she remembers, that one September there was two strangers wearing yellow raincoats walking the streets of Vinderup and showing interest in what the village is and where did it come from.