Creative stoke

Last night my friends and I saw a movie about surfing in Finland. A bizarre idea of course, especially for me who though being in Finland, simply despise freezing cold weather.

Trailer On Vimeo

Small spoiler alert ahead.

Finn-surfing opposites floating and riding waves in heavenly warm water with body honeyed with peach sunset light. Surfing in Finland equals to stalking extremely bad weather prognoses, driving two or three hours for a perfect spot, packing body from head to toes inside thick wetsuit and diving into icy Gulf of Finland. In between one also needed to go underneath barb wires and stay balance on slippery rocks – while wind is blowing over twenty meters per second.

Some of the surfers were so into their hobby that they did everything to catch a wave: cancelling meetings, skipping work, bypassing friends, taking sick leaves or if being actually sick, going to surf anyway. Freezing water does not care about surfers that much – too much of swimming in wrong gear and everything from limbs to spirit will be gone.

But the did it anyway. I guess standing on a snowy, edgy rock and holding surf board up in the air against blowing storm with only one hand can be called sisu. Or stoke.


Surfing has never been on my top to do –list (though definitely something to try out at some point). I have tried snowboarding and I love water and beach but the culture of surfism has not affected me much. Thus I was not as excited as my friends of instant after movie decisions to work a hell lot more just to buy runaway tickets to Costa Rica, Bali, New Zealand or any other far place and start living as a beach bum.

For me film was just a film: wonderful scenes, brave shooting locations, crazy but sort of inverted people enjoying their own world.

During the night something clicked in my head. I have no idea about the dreams I had but the first thing on my mind in the morning was “stoke”.

One of the surfers kept mention word ‘stoke’ as a matra. His stoke was high during his life in Mexico but faded when he realized that he was growing older and lacking plan b fro the future. He was also jealous about stoke that finnish surfers having a strong stoke while his was lost somewhere in the warm sea back home.

So what is it?

Of course as an outsider I could only guess. Obsession? Possessed need?  Balance between real life and surfing, emphasizing on the latter? Some unseen power that wakes you up at three AM in order to drive hundreds of kilometers for some mediocre waves? Feeling of social connection with other obsessed ones? A might in your that makes choices for you? A big wave or a cute boy on the beach… wave.

Or maybe it’s an inception (as with this 22 month old baby)? Some from your closed circle suggested it, took you to the beach and before you know – you’re hooked.

But wait a minute… All of this sounds familiar. Just not with the surfing.

Creative stoke

Why had I woke up in the middle of the night and spontaneously took a night bus to shoot (quite bad) night landscapes in Hakaniemi? Why do I draw obsessionally in classes – all my notebooks and course program leaflets are filled with doodles? What made me change my mind from going to grocery store and run across the city in order to start dancing classes? And what kept me going when I tried my first graffiti and even though my finger muscles were so stuck that I could not hold cans anymore I had to continue with the left hand? Pathetic I know – but well, I’m a newbie.

These questions kept filling my head. What is to blame for…

  • going for shopping shoes and buying PS-magazines instead
  • making t-shorts from empty cigarette packs
  • pulling up a web site about a subculture with a friend, though not knowing anything about making one
  • doing some design and trashing it hours before deadline since knowing that I can do better
  • feeling satisfied when there at least some tools and some canvas around

And above all: feeling electrified when surrounded with people with similar obsessions and pursuit for creativity?

I tried to google creative stoke (or stoke in general) and had a bit watery results. However, I stumbled upon known and less known meanings such as flow, happiness and “psychology of optimal experience“. There might be something to it, perhaps some new perspectives on empowering creativity.  I’ll keep you posted.


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