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Dreaming of Siberia

Ever since I read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I have been dreaming of a place that for most people is mainly associated with extreme weather, heavy snows and prison camps. Siberia. A place in Russia situated between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. A land of endless snow and ultimate coldness. A scary place. At the end of the novel, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, confesses his crime and is sent to a Siberian prison for punishment. Sonia, his girlfriend, follows him because she had promised to follow him up to the end of the world.

Siberia has got a special significance for me. I often dream of it at night and secretly long for it during the day. It means so much more than all the things that make people dread it. It is the land of endless snows and heavy frosts, but also a land of redemption, the symbol of a fresh start, of a new life and a new beginning. Although associated with prisons and exile, it is, in a way, a symbol of freedom. Spiritual freedom. The freedom Christ has promised us. “The truth will set you free”.

It is the centre of the labyrinth, where we suddenly realize the monster we’ve been chasing is within ourselves, but also a chance to defeat that monster, to prove we are stronger than it.

It is about reaching a higher spiritual level, free from the chains of guilt and remorse, from a tormented conscience and a torn heart. The point when we become a new being, as pure as Siberian snow. The wind might roar, the frost might bite, but nothing compares to the liberating feeling in our hearts, the revelation of divine love within us.

In the middle of his punishment, Raskolnikov found the three most precious things in life: peace of mind, true love and a reason to go on. The endless white has turned into a symbol of the infinite, reminding us that, although we are limited as human beings, we can overcome our limits and follow that deep longing inside telling us to go further and deeper.

Siberia is the symbol of suffering, but not a destructive suffering. One that builds us and takes us to new spiritual levels. It reminds us that God has astounding way of reaching to us, and suffering is one of them.

When I was studying the methods of teaching in college, I came across the idea that the key to improving and learning is setting your goals a little higher than you can reach. Pushing further, trying to exceed your limits is the best way to find out who you are and what you’re capable of.

To someone used to the modern western philosophy, this might sound weird. We have been taught to seek the easy way out. But the shortest route is not always the best. We talk about exotic islands, palm trees and people lying on the beach. Yet, each one of us carries a Siberia inside.

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