Matt Knutson: There’s value in the journey and destination

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“She doesn’t seem too thrilled with sledding,” I told my wife after returning home from the park with our oldest daughter. After being cooped up in the house for countless days of below zero temperatures, we thought venturing outdoors would be a good way to burn some energy and embrace the great outdoors in Minnesota. We’ve known for a while that our half-Minnesotan/half-African loved the cold, so I was certain this would be a hit.

Let me first start by sharing that sledding is way less fun as an adult. If you ever want to put your cardiovascular health to the test, try pulling an emotionless 2-year-old up a hill a few times, and you might begin to question where you lost your youthful energy. Yes, Gracelyn was rather indifferent about the whole sledding experience. Her little legs couldn’t walk through the snow more than a few feet, so I’d pull her up the hill and ride down with her on the back of the sled. After a couple of times, I grabbed my phone and filmed us going down the slope to capture a heartwarming memory of our first time sledding. The video footage proved my suspicion — she was barely interested in this activity.

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It was a gloomy revelation. The only glimmer of hope I had was when we reached the end of the hill. The sled no longer coasted forward and for a brief moment we would sit there while I mustered up the energy to drag Gracelyn back up the hill. Each time in that moment, she’d tilt her head ever so slightly and say in her most cartoonish voice, “Again!” Always attempting for Father of the Year, I’d find strength deep within and make the trek once more.

Because the closest toddler-friendly sledding hill is attached to our neighborhood park, I had competition to keep Gracelyn engaged in our activity. No, there weren’t any other families using the hill, but our daughter’s favorite swing was gently swaying in the wind, whispering her name. We may have ended up spending more time on that swing in the middle of winter than we did on that hill, but at least she was enjoying herself.

The only time she was avidly smiling on our outdoor excursion was when she would break our winter attire rules. Though she’s uninterested in sledding, this girl loves the cold and snow. Every chance she got, she’d toss her gloves into the snowbank purely to pick them up and eat the snow that was gathered on them. After multiple attempts to stop her, I finally gave in and let her embrace this weird desire. When we arrived back home from the park, she refused to get out of her car seat until she had successfully negotiated more time outside in the front yard with snow-filled gloves and a smile.

When I look back on our times going down the hill, I do wonder why she kept requesting to do it again. Maybe we don’t always appreciate what we’re doing in the moment. Maybe there are certain things that are only enjoyed once you’re on the other side of it. If life is really all about the journey and not the destination, I’d probably never take Gracelyn sledding again. Instead, I think it’s important to recognize the value in both the journey and the destination. To our daughter, the destination was the park filled with snow. Sledding wasn’t really part of the journey at all. Thankfully, I can replicate her desired journey and destination quite easily. And if the deep winter cold returns, she’ll be just as happy holding an ice cube on the couch as she was eating the snow outside.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.