My senior year in college I was a bartender and became good friends with one of the bar backs. His name was Colin and I pretty much thought he was nuts, but in a really fun way. While I was more reserved and played it pretty safe, he loved pushing the limits. He was in a fraternity and ROTC, and over summers he worked on an Alaskan fishing boat. In the half a year we were friends we went bridge jumping at a local river, we stayed up all night dancing in some weird fraternity event, and we had some conversations over beers that stick with me today. 

I recall sitting at an outside bar a few weeks before graduating, and we had a conversation I come back to on occasion. I don’t know exactly what we were talking about, but he said that he’d rather live the roller coaster than the straight and safe any day. He said he wants the highs and lows in life. The lows will be bad and force us to question things and maybe change things, and they will hurt, but you have to have those lows to truly appreciate the highs when they come. 

Maybe it was the super-cheap college town beer, maybe it was the sunny spring afternoon a few weeks before graduation, but whatever it was, it was the first time I had considered that outlook. To me, a life well lived meant being prepared enough for life that you could pivot and hopefully avoid the lows, the challenges, the unknown. But he was suggesting it was those challenges, that unknown, the curveballs, you have to experience to really grow — those are what make life so rich. Because with those lows, one develops a true appreciation for the good times when they come. 

I didn’t necessarily do anything different after that day, but I think as life threw me the highs and lows over the years, I just accepted it with a different mindset. While in the moment I may see life as falling to pieces, I understand that I will move past this experience and there will be more highs and lows ahead of me. 

So as we collectively come out of the haze of a pandemic year and (fingers crossed) start to return to a life closer to what we knew pre-COVID, as weather warms and we can flee the house and get outside for fresh air and reconnecting, I will be reflecting on the low moments and looking to embrace the highs that are ahead. 

This issue features stories in which pastors, teachers and moms talk about their highs and lows and offer insights about how they grow from each. And to help us all move out of that pandemic haze, we’ve got a list of farmers’ markets and a local parks spread to help you move outside and breathe in that fresh spring air. 

Here’s to the many highs ahead.  


Kym Byrnes