My name is Pilvi Muschitiello. I am one of the many international Ssideliners in Stockholm. I recently moved to NYC, where I’m currently trying to find my way [most of the time very literally!]. I’m an ordinary Finn lucky enough to have lived in different cultures for most of my existence. A lot of things in my life have changed over the years, but running has always been there in one way or the other. Being the time-optimist that I am, even in times when my running shoes have been collecting dust in the closet, I’ve run to places in a hurry.
I believe in small acts of everyday life becoming exercise. The thought of going to the gym puts me off. I’d rather be running to work or walking to meet a friend than taking the bus. The best thing is that once you get used to some small acts every day, you’ll end up doing more. Suddenly running to work isn’t enough and you’ll end up running back home too. Instead of taking the shortest way you’ll look for a calmer path, or that big hill where you know the view will be breathtaking. It’s about effortless ways of clearing your head and getting energy – health, not fitness.
I started running regularly a couple of years ago, and in that time I’ve explored what’s natural for me, both in distance and speed. I guess as a result of that, some people (too many if I’m asked) have started referring to me as the ‘warrior princess of Stockholm’, a nickname that makes me laugh nervously every time I hear it. I have grown to love running long distances, but there’s nothing magical of how I got to that point. I simply learnt to love the struggle, because it makes me feel stronger afterwards. Warrior princess or not, I do feel strong, but I’m only capable of doing what everyone else is to.
Most of who we are is who we decide to be, a process of growth that requires imagination. Imagination is the ability of seeing something that isn’t there, like looking around you with your eyes closed. You observe other people and your surroundings, collect ideas as well as learn attitudes, and start developing your own. It applies to basically any creative process – even running. My crew, as well as my city, is the base of my creative process and a big part of my personal growth. Ssideline City is a relatively new crew in the world of BTG, but it’s incredible how the original message of collective crew running can form all on its own so far away from where it all started. I moved from Stockholm for New York to follow my better half’s dream, and while all the crews in NYC have their own way of doing things, I recognize the supportive, creative community at the core of each of them.
Coming to New York from Stockholm hasn’t been the most natural change. The city feels loud, smelly, arrogantly grand, harsh. I knew what to expect, and I think I expected to be able to accept it as it is. But I couldn’t. I found myself undermined by what I saw. I couldn’t see myself in this city, I felt like my self could get lost so easily in the concrete forest. My view of life is being “naturally civilized”, but being so far from something that is natural for me feels scary I guess. In retrospect I see it as lack of imagination. I couldn’t even imagine fitting in. After many days spent at home wondering what I should do, where I should go, feeling paralyzed by the hundreds of possibilities, I slowly started to find a rhythm that allowed me to think I will feel more at home at some point.
I’ve run with different crews in the city, and met so many new people. It’s still lonely on so many days, but the days that I have a genuine connection with someone make every step of the new adventure worth it. I believe I would not have this without running. For me it’s a fundamental in life, and it has led me to see myself differently, as well as changing how I perceive my surroundings wherever I go. I am happy it takes me to places where I find pieces of ‘home’. The other day I asked a new friend, Aisha from the Black Roses, if she’d like some company for a longer run (something I could do with plenty of people back in Stockholm!), and was so glad when she willingly accepted. 30km and a lunch-bagel after I was thrilled of the genuine conversations and silences we had. It is such moments that allow me to feel ‘unlocked’, and let the imagination flow. Sometimes it’s good to look for the familiar first. Then see the unseen. Feel natural and open up to new possibilities.
I’m curious to uncover more of what is just out of reach all around me.
Pilvi Muschitiello Team Leader – Ssideline City Instagram: @pilvi.tuulia