All good things come to an end at some stage. That is how I felt when Finnair contacted me in October and told me that they are renewing the concept of Blue Wings. Time to get a new roster of columnists.
A curious and open mind is often happy. For me, reading and writing equals happiness. It has been a privilege to write this column for 12 years. It all started in 2005. Since then I have written over 120 stories in this space. Two books have been published based on the texts, and I hope to publish a third one next year.
The basic aim of the column has been to deal with topics that are of interest to international readers visiting Finland and Finnish readers interested in international subjects. The great thing is that I have been able to write about whatever I want, things close to my heart.
Throughout the years of writing I have held various professional posts, which have inevitably influenced the topics. As a member of the European Parliament I wrote about things European. Sometimes I would make fun of European stereotypes; in other columns I would tell French presidents and Italian prime ministers about Finnish cuisine.
When I became a government minister I started writing about how to brand Finland, Finnish architecture, and travelling in Finland.
I also dealt with issues relating to foreign policy. One of my all-time favorites was a column in which I talked about the similarities of child minding and foreign policy. And naturally the idea came from my wife, who should get the credit for many of the ideas I have written about over the years.
As the years went on I moved on to more philosophical subjects, such as the art of being kind, body and mind, artificial intelligence, big data, and even the future of homo sapiens. Many of the columns were based on books that I read over the years.
The good thing with writing a column is that your brain is on constant look-out for topics. That means that you must keep on learning and reading.
But the best thing has been the feedback from you, the readers. Not a week goes by without someone commenting on the column, whether in person or via email or social media. The column has been widely quoted and used as teaching material in schools around Finland, as well as for lectures and speeches on many occasions. There has even been a study written on the columns.
My last column in this magazine makes me both happy and sad. Happy, becauseI firmly believe (and preach) that we all need to do new things, renew ourselves. Sad because I have truly loved writing for Blue Wings. The process of writing has been a source of renewal in and of itself.
So, to all of my readers, reviewers, and commentators over the years, I say thank you and goodbye. This has been a wonderful journey. Let’s keep on reading and writing. And please do stay in touch.