I DISLIKE waste of any kind - food, things, precious resources and time, mine and other people’s. In our household any leftover food is reused for lunch or repurposed into a different meal by adding extra ingredients. I compost all food scraps for gardening. I strive to be punctual so that I don’t waste others’ time.
In recent years, textile and clothing waste has become a huge problem across the globe. Those excess clothes can take decades to break down in landfill if they are thrown away as rubbish. Even when they are sent overseas as second hand clothes, the sheer volume of them is choking those developing countries.
I’m very good at keeping myself busy with my exercise routine, language study and teaching. Month after month there were challenges to be completed, French homework to be finished and choreography to be learned but no time to mend my socks. It was truly getting ridiculous that I had so little time for such a simple chore.
At the start of October I took on a monthly challenge to fundraise for mental health. I set my goals for distance and fundraising, calculated the daily minimum distance and started the first day with confidence. On day two I injured my right knee badly. It was so painful I couldn’t put any weight on it. I still had three more kilometres to walk on that day. After some rest, I went out again to complete the minimum distance. I used a walking pole to take some weight off and walked a flat section of foreshore path while Rob went further to Townsend Bluff. I was so glad I didn’t have to walk any more on that day.
On day three there was no way I could walk the whole ten kilometres in one hit with my injury. I decided to break it down to shorter distances of two or three kilometres. I tried not to think about the total distance I had to walk but focused on just two kilometres. I managed ok. A few hours later I went out again and managed five. After lunch I sat on the bench on the deck to rest my knee. It was a glorious spring day. Birds were chirping and flowers were smiling. I realised finally I had all the time in the world. I decided to mend my pairs of socks.
I brought the sewing box and mending basket out to the outside table, and cut a piece of material out of Rob’s old underwear. Instead of traditional darning method to fix holes around toes, I decided to cover the whole area with a piece of material to reinforce. It had to be done by hand stitching. Even with the bright sunlight, threading a needle was tricky task for my aging eyes.
When I was young I was often my mum’s great helper to thread her needle. “How can you see such a tiny hole? You must have great eyesight.” I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t perform this simple task. Now I am well beyond the age when she had spent hours sewing our dresses for me and my sister, I completely understand the difficulty of this task. Luckily many years ago I was given this gadget by mum to help thread a needle. I had a good use of it, and was very thankful for mum’s thoughtfulness.
As I became engrossed in hand stitching, a Japanese proverb crossed my mind. People who are not good at sewing make it more difficult by using unnecessarily long threads on the needle, but those who are good at it make it easier by using only as much thread as necessary. An inexperienced sewer creates more waste, while the expert wastes no time or resources. I made sure my thread wasn’t unnecessary long.
One by one, stitch by stitch, I mended my socks with holes. While basking in the sun, I paid attention to my hands. Every now and then melodious bird songs delighted my whole being. The pleasant warmth of the sun drenched my entire body as a gentle breeze caressed my face. Fragrant smells of blossoms wafted into my nostrils and I was utterly happy. The process of mending my socks, which took so long to commence, brought much pleasure in the end - thinking of my mum and about her sewing, and happy memories of wearing handmade dresses. I was in such a happy place I even took on an extra stitching job. Rob wanted his bicycle gloves’ Velcro to be stitched and I offered to fix it there and then.
It took an injury to slow me down. It was only a few hours that I spent hand stitching, but the richness of time I felt on that day was truly sublime. I’m glad I’d decided to repair my socks because they didn’t go to landfill. Consequently I paused and noticed ordinary moments with joy hidden deep within.