I got a new knife last week.
To clarify, I did not go to the knife store with all my knife knowledge and pick out the latest in knife technology. I was a groomsman in a wedding, and we six gentlemen were gifted knives.
I very clearly have no need for a knife. I am not in prison, nor do I often work slaughterhouses / the docks / mafia hits. I am but a common urban homosexual, and I need a knife like I need pleated khakis. But the knife was part of a bigger lesson from my Idaho adventure.
The knife wasn't about me.
I have now been to a fair amount of weddings, but this one involved two of my dearest friends and therefore hit quite close to home. I see them usually once a year, and at the risk of sounding disgustingly corny, every moment I get to spend with them is a treat. But when you go to a wedding where the invited guests equal a quarter of their hometown's population, one on one time is an elusive goal.
Another groomsman that hadn't seen the couple for quite some time said it perfectly on our first night out. Noticing that I hung back when we all saw our buddy for the first time, he said "It's hard not to push everyone out of the way, isn't it? We all feel like we've earned a special spot in the moment."
When the groom asked me to be in the wedding, we were washing dishes after the engagement party on a snowy Idaho night, and he stumbled through the question in the anti-climactic way only straight guys trying to convey something important can do. It was not a particularly poetic moment, but it was ours, and therefore special to me.
During the wedding I did everything I could. I took the toasts while we adjusted our suspenders, I umbrella'd old people through the rain, and I helped the groom dry his pants when he had a wardrobe malfunction minutes before the ceremony. With the other fellow's words in the back of my mind, I did everything in my power to be the best groomsman possible.
During the reception, after the meal but before the cake, I found myself dancing next to the groom, and it was mutually decided that a piss break was in order. Being males in a red state, we bee-lined for the door and found somewhat-secluded foliage mere feet from where they'd taken photos earlier in the day. As a wedding's worth of alcohol emptied before us, I said -
"Yeah, I'm good."
And that's all I needed. To clarify, for this guy that's a fairly lengthy conversation. More importantly, I knew that him, and me, and the marriage, and the moment, and the people inside....we were all good. He probably would never give that instance a second thought, but for me it brought the peace I needed. The day was about him, and if he was good, then so was I.
I will probably never use that knife. But my friend gave it to me as a thank-you for standing beside him during what was arguably the most important day of his life, and for that I will always be honored. It was the best way for him to share his special occasion with us. That knife will continue to remind me that it's not about your life's place in the moment...it's about the moment's place in your life. Thankfully I was present for this moment, as it is one that I will truly never forget.