Keskiviikko 19.9.2018
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Minulle elämä on Kristus ja kuolema on voitto. Fil. 1:21

Blog: Sufficient, necessary

in English 20.4.2016 16:00 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
I seem to feel the limited quality of time daily; the morning is so short, and very soon it is evening again. It is true, of course, that there are countless actions, things, people, requests, sounds, and voices between the morning and the evening. I often wonder what I am using my time for, if I do the right kind of things. The things on my ’to do’ list are concrete, but that is only part of my reality.
In the evening I may think: did I take care of everything, did I hear what the children talked about, did I see the joy of the four-year-old learning to ride a bike, did the children go to bed with a happy mind, did I hear what the 17-year-old or the smaller boy said? Did I use my time in such a way that I could, years from now, feel that I had a good life? I often wonder what is necessary, what is sufficient, and what is reasonable in matters where I have a choice.

I often begin my morning by doing laundry. I am lucky to have a big washing machine, and I get the laundry done quickly. The outdoor clothes line is close the door, I do not hear the sounds from inside the house. I wonder if there could be less laundry. I tell the children: wear your school clothes to school and your home clothes at home, one set of Sunday clothes is enough. I remember an older person who once said: it used to be easier with fewer items of clothing. We wore what we had, and there was not so much laundry. And we sometimes just turned our clothes inside out, an elderly man chuckles. I guess reasonable moderation would lie between these extremes: children would have nice, clean clothes at school and on Sundays, but they would not need many such outfits.

When I think about material things and moderation, I remember a Mongolian proverb: a person who knows what is sufficient is rich. He can see what he has. If one sees what is sufficient, one is rich, abundantly rich. The time span of my ‘to do’ list is long. Items keep disappearing. Some of them are medical and dental appointments, some are things that I have chosen: things that make my life happy and meaningful or even challenging. In the summer I often find myself painting chairs, this summer I painted them creamy white. After the chairs I painted two desks, because my son asked to have a desk for school work. Then I sanded a dresser, which is now waiting for a new coat of paint. These were things that I had been dreaming about, that had been waiting for a suitable summer.

Then – the sun was shining on the patio, and I found myself fixing an old armchair, the straws of the filling were floating around in the warm current of air, and my little boy was using them as load on his toy truck. I finally managed to put the parts of the chair together again: the broken springs fixed, the canvas lining replaced, the padding and the woolen cover material the color of red clovers sewn and stapled to the bottom, and the last seams tacked with a curved needle. I looked at my fuchsia chair, and I was just a little bit proud of myself. Someone made a good chair way back in the 1950s, or maybe even earlier, and it can now continue in daily use. I bought the woolen cover material for one euro at a second-hand sale, and it waited for me to find the chair. Every summer I enjoy the rich color of clovers and peonies, my eyes search for them among the greenery.  Now I remember the deep red of the clovers by the roadside. I sit on the red chair and remember June, the time of fuchsia flowers.

The children want to go swimming. It is a hot day close to the end of the summer. This text is waiting to be finished. The beach is in a faraway corner of the island. Sand, sunshine, pine cones on the forest path. I walk a long way into the water, the air is warm, the water is cool. I can see the bottom of the sea, the sand waves, then the waves on the surface of the water, the ripples caused by the wind, and the long, gentle waves coming from the open sea. They all move into different directions, in their own rhythm, on top of each other. The water near the bottom is cold. When I have walked far enough, I dive. At each stroke I go under the surface, my temples feel cool, I remember this sensation from my childhood, the taste of sea water. I swim a long way out, counting my strokes, and then turn back. I look at the shore. The smallest boy is digging in the sand with his spade, a sandbox the size of the beach. A girl is running back and forth along the water line, splashing in the shallow water, the boys are building a dam. One more time. I turn out to the sea. Clouds on a summer day.

In the evening I do not think about my ’to do’ list. It has been a good day, not wasted.

Kaisu Tuomaala
Translation: S.-L. L.
The blog post was published in online Päivämies on 4 Sep. 2015.

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