Dreams and happiness
August 18, 2014
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Let me ask you a question — if you achieve the thing you are dreaming of, will you be happy?
Tom Sukanen was one of the pioneers of this part of Saskatchewan. He came from Finland as a young man with immense strength and talent — and a dream of one day going back to Finland as a wealthy man with a family. In the early years he was a friend to all around them. He helped build their homes, showed them how to work their land, repaired their machinery. He built a steam-powered threshing machine and threshed his neighbour’s grain. He built a sewing machine and let the women of the community use it to sew clothes for their families. He made his own violin and played it to lighten the long winter evenings.
Through tragic circumstances he lost his family. That part of his dream was shattered, he withdrew from the people around him and focussed all his time and might on the other part of his dream. He built a small seagoing ship that he would float up the river to Hudson Bay and return to Finland to a hero’s welcome. He built every part of the ship himself, including the boiler to provide steam power, the propeller, gears and chains. He knew his business, he had charts of the river system, he knew the seas – it would have worked.
Unfortunately, the drought of the 1930’s intervened. Tom Sukanen almost starved to death, refusing government relief and all offers of help from his neighbours. Some neighbours thought he was crazy, vandals got away with parts of his work. He died a broken man in 1943 at the age of 65.
Today the ship has been restored and is located in a museum south of Moose Jaw. Tom Sukanen is buried beside it. The question remains for us to ponder — would he have been happy if he had managed to return to Finland and received accolades for his accomplishment?
Or did he experience true happiness when he was helping his neighbours, then turn his back on it to follow his dream?
We all need a dream, and we should follow our dream. But if it is a selfish dream, know that we will not find happiness at the end. Let us rather dream of helping others find happiness. Then genuine happiness will sneak up and surprise us.