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Matt Knutson: Prepare now to appreciate celebrations in life

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“I think I need a moment to just breathe,” I told my wife after an exhausting few days. Running errands, visiting family, hosting guests and more had all aligned in several days of joy and exhaustion. An invitation to my nephew’s high school graduation hangs on the fridge, and I’m reminded of my past graduations and the flurry of activity that led up to those days. It’s that time of year.

I often like to pretend the activities of the world aren’t cyclical. To me, there’s something magical about things being unpredictable, not knowing what is next or what the upcoming season will bring. Of course, that is all a farce, as we have fairly regular holidays, seasons, weather patterns and school calendars that largely dictate how society moves forward each year. My soul often clings to the opposite of these norms, so I’m often caught by surprise when the rest of the world seems caught up in a flurry of activity as the school year ends and summer vacation plans begin. Eventually our daughter will enter that school year calendar and there will be no denying it’s existence, but today, it’s merely a thought floating in the back of my mind, attempting to be unacknowledged.

In the days, weeks, even months like these, I wish there was a way to slow down and enjoy the whirlwind of life. The best and brightest moments of life are often the busiest, and it’s so hard to truly appreciate those highs when so many other things are going on. I reflect back to my high school graduation and recall very little of what was said up at that podium. Reflecting on my college graduation is a little less hazy, which means I know the commencement speech involved using bricks to build a wall of some sort (it wasn’t political, I promise). As a member of the choir in college, I attended many commencement ceremonies to sing the school’s song, among other selections. The most vivid memory I have from that time is the speaker sharing, “If you don’t remember anything else from this speech, remember this!” Unfortunately, I don’t recall what followed that statement.

Maybe this column is taking a turn and just pointing out how poor my memory is, but I’m going to project my condition onto others and say all of us experience this phenomena during momentous occasions. My wedding day went by in the blink of an eye, as did the moments when Gracelyn was born. Thank goodness we have cameras to look back on those precious memories, but no camera can capture those feelings of deep joy and awe, which are far too rare in life. We need to make space in our lives to purposefully take in those moments when they happen. Those memories are what fuel us forward in more challenging seasons.

So whether you’re crossing the stage at a commencement in a few weeks, preparing for a wedding, or even just planning a summer trip away, schedule some real time to take it all in. Find the imaginary pause button in life, and participate in these best moments as authentically as you can. Sometimes we run ourselves ragged with to-do lists and unobtainable plans because we know time is running short, but we don’t have to let that dictate every moment of important milestones. There’s no time like today to start preparing to appreciate the celebrations to come.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.