One Day at a Time

La Voz de Galicia – December 8, 2023 →

Cristina PatoThe cold got into my body. The house was humid and cold, and it had trouble getting warm. And I, who had forgotten the cold of rural Ourense, shrugged my shoulders and remained shivering all day while Xan worked with the wood. When the fog opened and the sun came out, we went for a walk in the village, and we bumped into Mr. Manuel, who was walking at a quick pace. We stopped to say hello, and Xan asked me, «I bet you don’t know how old he is?» to which Manuel responded: «Well, on December 21, I will have thirty-two thousand eight hundred seventy days, one thousand eighty months, and seven hundred eighty-eight thousand nine hundred or so hours…» And he continued the conversation talking about nicknames, about how he remained active with the routes that he walked every day, and about how he did crossword puzzles every night. And I was listening, but I was also trying to do calculations, and I suppose that he noticed that I was only half-listening to him because suddenly he looked at me and said: «Ninety, I am ninety years old.»

When I arrived home, I asked myself how much wood would be necessary to warm it, and how practical it would be to have that prodigious mind that can calculate things without an effort. I thought about counting the logs that Xan was putting into the wood stove, but I also thought that even though I counted them, I would soon forget them, or I would not remember where I had written them down, or, even worse, I would not know the equation to use to calculate the quantity of logs that we would need to warm up the house every day.

And so, counting things, I realized that there are twenty-three days remaining in the year (I counted them with the fingers in one hand), and that each day is important, and that perhaps it is better to think about life like that, like something that happens step by step, or as Americans say, «one day at a time.»

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