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Sauna Exists, Therefore I Am

In 1637, the great French philosopher René Descartes wrote "I think, therefore I am." It was the first principle of his philosophy and I think it meant that one cannot doubt one's own existence if one was doing the doubting in the first place.


In 1999, the great Finnish-Canadian bush philosophist Pertti Räty wrote "Sauna exists, therefore I am." It was the first principle of his philosophy and implied that because both of his parents were born in saunas, if not for their existence, he too would not exist. 

A mild stretch perhaps, but at its root there is truth. Sauna has been inextricably linked to the Finns since time immemorial and has served as her refuge against harsh climates, abject poverty and hellish wars. One could argue that without sauna, Finland would not exist, at least not in its current form, and thereby nor would my father. Nor, for that matter, would I.

The article - Sauna Exists, Therefore I Am -  was submitted by my father for a sauna biography short story contest held in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1999. Out of 472 entrants Dad placed second and received a löyly bucket and ladle for his efforts. His story, amongst others, was posthumously published in 2005 in Sweating with the Finns: Sauna Stories from North America. It is presented for you below. Note, this version is abridged for relevance. 

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