Struggling with gratitude? Pay attention. Be astonished.

Today I got engaged. It still sounds strange. Six years dating and today is the day it becomes “official” at least until the day we get married and then it becomes “official official.”

The proposal was quick and sweet. No frills or photographer. Just the two of us, nestled between the beach and that famous crooked Wanaka tree sprouting unexpectedly from the lake.

I wanted to know all the details. How long had he been hiding the ring? How did he plan it out? Did he always know he wanted to do it on our New Zealand vacation?

He had the ring delivered to his work address to keep it a surprise. He asked a newly engaged colleague for advice. She offered the following: don’t bet everything on that one special moment you have planned in your head, because it may never come. Just soak up every moment, and do it when it feels right.

There had been other moments. On the flight when we found the secret stash of Tim Tams. The first night sleeping in the camper van when we talked about family and simplicity and love. A few days prior, after convincing himself that stone I found in the creek was actually precious New Zealand Jade covered in purple clay.

In the end he did it in Wanaka, where he always planned to. A place he visited as a teen, during the awkward years when growing up feels hardest. A place that made him feel special. The first place he ever got drunk.

I collect these moments. The ones that didn’t happen and the one that did. It feels incredible. Greedy even. To have so many delightfully happy moments.

I know that everyday won’t feel this full. Most days the routine of work, gym, errands, and cooking dinner lulls me into a sheepish yet stressed state of existence. But I am trying to find at least one moment worth collecting each day, writing them down in my Morning Pages.

Call it gratitude. Call it looking for the silver lining. I call it collecting moments because it reminds me of beach combing and bird watching, two activities I’ve been doing a lot of in New Zealand. Activities that remind me to slow down and pay attention.

Which reminds me of poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver’s suggestions for your one precious life:

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

So here I am telling you about it. Hi, my name is Sam. Nice to meet you.

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