Mikko Malmivaara: A Method of Living

Read a poem by our folk music student Mikko Malmivaara reflecting the times of the pandemic.

A young man in front of doors
Riikka Hänninen Folk music student Mikko Malmivaara

Whales used to walk on Earth
but they got tired of the vibe and returned to the water,
which is only one indicator of their magnificent intelligence

that cost them their legs
myself I’m not ready to abandon my legs just yet
but on the other hand, I know the feeling when meandering on the Earth
seems aimless and you’re hoping for a change of scenery

Living underwater would be quite handy after all
Everybody knows that floating around is very relaxing
And in marine conditions difficult situations can be escaped from
To countless directions
Unlike on dry land

It is September. Feels like March
March last year

It’s been a cold ride for a culture person
When may I play? When may I dance?

It feels like I’ve walked circles in a mud pit for one and half years, with no
shoes, soaking wet woollen socks squelching in my feet.
The walls of my room are getting closer day by day. I’ve forgotten how to
comb my hair. Why is my coffee cold, I just brewed it? Or have I just been
staring at the wall for hours again without noticing?

Maybe it’s still Folklandia 2020, and I’ve just happened to fall asleep in the
wee hours. This is just a long, peculiar, discouragingly realistic dream.
Luckily, I wake up, brush my teeth and wobble to the breakfast buffet one
minute before it’s closed.

What happens, when your source of livelihood (”living method” in Finnish) is banned?

A method of living. For me it works like this:

One at a time I open the latches that hold the case closed
I grab my instrument and bring it to my lap
The fingers of my left hand are pressing the strings – either by intuition or as pre-planned – at one or multiple frets.
My right hand starts a motion, holding on to a plectrum, which moves
through the strings.
The strings vibrate, the vibration is then transferred
to the air and then to the ear

The motion repeats countless times,
Other parts of the body might move, too
The bodies of other people involved might move, too

Then a miracle happens
The stars align
The gods are merciful
A four-leaf clover is easily found
The sails catch the wind
I thought I was stomping the floor,
But looking down I realize I’m floating in mid-air
I look up and all my friends are there
And mom and dad
And they’re floating too

The method reaches its end
For a little while I have
A full stomach,
Some money on my bank account
And a fleeting sense that some things on Earth are worthwhile

But I cannot be the only one making miracles. My voice is needed, but so
are many other voices. Your voice. So I ask:

Don’t return to the water just yet
Don’t abandon your feet
Wash your face, iron your shirt, remind yourself the basics of the dance
Breath in

Open the latch

Text: Mikko Malmivaara, 1 September 2021