Matt Knutson: Wonder doesn’t have to be limited to babies

Published 8:08 pm Thursday, May 17, 2018

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson


“I wonder when I stopped doing new things,” I told my wife after pondering our youngest daughter’s latest foray into crawling. I wasn’t thinking about when I learned new ways to move per se, but more along the lines of settled on who I was, what I liked or disliked and stopped branching out to discover the unknown. Over the past few years, it seems like I’ve turned a bit more inward than I have been in the past. That’s not necessarily bad, but life is always more exciting when you’re learning and exploring something new.

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Exploring is exactly what Maeva, our 6-month-old daughter, is attempting to do. She has mastered sitting up by herself, and now is experimenting with the crawl position to reach each and every object that her heart desires. This often results in her moving backward rather than her intended forward motion, but in my mind, it still counts as progress. Surprisingly, the journey of learning how to crawl for Maeva also involves a lot of planking. I thought that stopped being cool in 2011, but I won’t tell her she’s behind the times. Maybe in 10 years she’ll be telling me about fidget spinners.

Experimenting with movement isn’t the only new activity in Maeva’s life. We’ve recently begun adding in some simple baby food to her diet, which opens up a whole new world of taste. In my mind, I equate this to a person with colorblindness suddenly being able to see in full color. New hues and saturations reveal unexpected results around every corner. For the most part, baby food has gone remarkably well. Nearly liquid meals made from fruits and vegetables don’t sound particularly appealing to me, but Maeva seems to appreciate the variety. Each new flavor brings about a new facial expression, and you begin to wonder what her favorites might be.

When you reach adulthood, those new experiences tend to go away. I’ve tried most of the foods around me, and I’m not too keen on trying something that I may not like. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and order the same thing time and again. Why risk spending your money on something new that you might not enjoy, when you can easily relive the satisfying experience you had last time. The only problem is that you don’t know what you’re missing out on when you do this. Perhaps your yet-to-be-uncovered favorite meal is just one page over on the menu, but you don’t bother pursuing it because the entree is unknown to you. How much of life are we missing out on because we’ve decided to stop exploring?

Of course it is not always as easy as just choosing something new on the menu. By turning outward, beyond what we’ve internalized as good and preferable, we open ourselves up to a whole new world of opportunities. One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself into something new is to travel. By visiting another country, you might just understand how vastly different we can all be from one another while still having the same goals for our families. In addition to learning about the uniqueness of others, you’ll also uncover the heart of who you are through the process.

This is also possible without even leaving your community — it just takes a bit more of intentionality. Find a spot you’ve never been before and go there. Interact with people you normally don’t see, and experience how they live a very different life than you, but just a few miles away from where you call home. Breaking out of your bubble is one of the easiest ways to start doing something new again — and you can do that at any age.

With her whole life ahead of her, Maeva is destined to discover something new every day for quite a long time. As her parents, it’s a privilege to observe and an inspiration for us to choose to be better. The exploration and wonder that our littlest girl is experiencing doesn’t have to be limited to babies — but it will be unless we’re intentional about partaking in that part of our own lives. Best of luck to all of us as we boldly take a step in the direction of new, whatever that may mean.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.