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Matt Knutson: You cannot plan for most of the journey of life

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“How did you even see that?” I asked my wife as she plucked a white strand of hair from behind my ear. She lovingly described it as white, but I think we both know it was gray. We could debate the validity of how it emerged on my otherwise brown-haired head, but that debate wouldn’t change the fact that it did appear. I’m sure if I did enough digging, I’d find an article online that would say it is good luck for someone to get their first stand of gray hair before their 30th birthday. I think I already have enough luck without needing the change in color.

I was born with blond hair, and even though it turned brown, there were quite a few early summers that would bring back the blond with natural highlights. Having discovered this white intruder, I suggested that it appeared solely because of our trip to Arizona. Surely that much exposure to the sun could lure one strand to the light side. All of that time in the sun didn’t seem to impact my wife’s black curls, but her many years living in Kenya never impacted her hair color (except for the unspeakable time when she dyed it brown), so it’s not a fair comparison.

Thankfully, aging hasn’t ever bothered me too much. I’m frequently mistaken as a much younger person, so as every year passes, I’ve looked forward to the possibility of looking a bit closer to my own age. Maybe if my hair continues to gray, I’ll be propelled forward a few years. Being able to look older while avoiding wrinkles is probably an unattainable goal for most people, but I just might be able to pull it off. I think the term for this in Hollywood is a silver fox, but I’m not one to care much for labels, either. Perhaps if I really want to complete the look, I should just dye my hair gray tomorrow instead of letting the inevitable slowly creep up on me. If the silver foxes have a club, I’ll reach out and see how they handled the transition.

Of course one gray hair doesn’t mean the rest of my hairs will be joining the loner anytime soon. It could be years until the next one appears. I’d like to think this is more in line with a solar eclipse phenomenon, occurring rarely and appropriately celebrated. I use caution with the term appropriately, as my wife did ask if I wanted to keep what she plucked from my head. Something about that seemed a little too odd, so when it accidentally fell to the floor, I left it there for the vacuum cleaner to dispose of at a date to be determined. Clearly my wife thought it was a more momentous occasion than I would have preferred.

Increasingly, signs of time passing faster than ever are appearing. I just spent some time re-watching videos of when our daughter was first born, and it’s fascinating to see how much she has changed. I forget that she, too, had a unique hair situation when she was born, with two beautiful bald patches on top. Following those photos, I began reminiscing over Sera and I’s wedding day. We looked so youthful then. Thank goodness we didn’t know how tired we’d look today. Years from now as Gracelyn looks at these photos, she’ll likely remark on how quickly we aged after she was born. Thank you, baby girl, for helping us perfect that look.

In my brief 28 years, I’ve learned the best way to do life is to embrace it. So much of this journey you can’t plan, but you can accept what you cannot change. Sera’s instinct was to pluck that rebellious hair from my head, but if it’s really time for the gray hair to start coming, there’s no reason to fight it. I can’t imagine spending time dying my hair brown or using some other peculiar treatment to maintain my cherubic look. We have too many adventures ahead to worry about one needle in the haystack, and I hope you do, too.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.