For my entire life, I have been an indoors type through and through. I have always been a slow runner, I cannot stand bugs, and my skin is UV-sensitive and refuses to tan, so rather than going outside I am the kind of girl who would much rather stay in her room and read a book. And yet the other day saw me purchase a picnic blanket.
In this age when such things are sold at every corner 100-yen store, the sum I paid for mine was 2,000 yen. Besides, it has a stylish design, so….
I have a feeling my sanity will likely be called into question by both my readers and my mother. I even asked myself, “Do I need this?!” But even so, I have various reasons of my own for wanting to buy it.
Last year, during those priceless five weeks of traveling alone through ten countries in Europe, I kept a running list of “things I want to do when I get back to Japan”.
Pay a visit to the neighborhood where I used to live a long time ago.
Spend time with good friends over drinks until morning.
Rearrange my room.
Have a hand-rolled sushi party with family.
Buy clothes in pretty colors.
Read a favorite book one more time.
They were all things I told myself I could do at any time, yet they were all things I have always put off until later.
As I traveled, I was able to notice in small ways the wonder of everyday things and the miraculous sorts of things that lie under the surface of daily life. The facts that I have a family, that I have friends, that every day is a new day, that one day my life will end, that my time is limited. Soaking in the sun on clear days, finding shelter when it rains, sleeping with the night, waking with the morning, eating when I’m hungry, smiling when I’m having fun.
What bliss it would be to live without fighting the seasons, the weather, or one’s emotions. Though I would expect this to come naturally, why is it such a challenge? I am very happy to fill every day with work, but as a human, as part of this planet, I felt I had to experience joy with more of my entire being. And so in my list, the most concrete idea I came up with was “get a picnic blanket and go out on a picnic”. If I can, I want to take a thermos of coffee, pack an onigiri or sandwich lunch, load my favorite songs into my iPod and pick out one of my favorite books, spread my picnic blanket in a spacious park, and sprawl out upon it. I want to breathe in the aroma of the grass, feel the wind on my skin.
Half a year has elapsed since I returned from my trip. The number of things I have checked off from my lengthy list is still just one or two. I ended up going straight back to my usual busy pace, and those “everyday miracles” for which I thought I was so grateful have again faded somewhat. But clearly, something in me changed in a big way on that journey. The signs of that change will never fade.
When I found this picnic blanket while browsing in a store, I realized it was the very one from the picnic scene I had imagined. That’s why I couldn’t leave without buying it. Right now, going on a picnic—merely this and nothing more—is for me a dream I cannot possibly ignore. This year will be the one when I’ll make it come true. I couldn’t ask for more.