If you’ve experienced heartbreak in your life (who hasn’t?), with the perspective of time, you may look back and see that although it darn near shredded you to bits, all kinds of good sprang from a hot mess.
For years I’ve had a fantasy of being a master somm (wine expert). These are the folks who have such trained palates that they can take a sip of wine and tell you where on the planet it came from. I live in a special pocket of the world by Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes (the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world for those who like fun facts). The water proximity provides extraordinary growing conditions for produce, including grapes.
In the spirit of that interest, I’ve dedicated a small portion of time to a premier Michigan winery helping guests learn about wine. Through this experience, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for the land, lake, and weather patterns that affect it all. Glossy wine magazines and fancy glasses aside, an industry insider described the essence of the trade as ‘farming.’
Knowing the importance of land in the growing equation, I've learned that less than optimum natural growing conditions stress vines. Counterintuitively, this leads to grapes that can produce the best wines. Roots need to reach deeply into the earth to gain the nutrients and water necessary to produce superior grapes, not possible lollygagging near the surface.
I knew an inspirational quote was in that analogy. A photo to illustrate the idea was another matter. Finding a close-up of a beautiful bunch of grapes in the right light, at the right stage of development and color within untold acres of vineyards is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Grapes and their vines don’t grow in a visually ordered way as suggested by the lush packaged bunches seen in a grocery store. They can be a compositional mess!
When I serendipitously found a cluster of grapes growing from a strong weathered vine that I could work with, pre-dawn, post-dawn, mid-day, and post-sunset excursions were made to a roadside vineyard that hosted the rare find. Often accompanied by a crowing rooster in the distance, a travel mug of lukewarm decaf coffee and wet sneakers from the morning dew, hours were spent in the vineyard experimenting with visual angles that would illustrate the quote that came to me:
‘Like remarkable wine, challenging situations that force your roots deeper create a more exceptional you.’
When life presents you with a ‘hot mess,’ the status quo is disrupted. Those circumstances provide the opportunity for a time out that allows introspection — going deeper within yourself. It’s during those times that a greater aspect of yourself is allowed to come forward, building strength while bringing the essential nutrients needed to expand and eventually mellow into a fuller, deeper, richer expression of you.
Cheers to a Gold Medal You!