Today was the day of an annual harvest party hosted by my friends in McMinnville. As part of the annual festivities, they roast a pig, they hire a local bluegrass band, Jackstraw, and all of the invitees bring wine to share. This is also an opportunity to welcome the harvest interns – crew members coming from as far as California, New Zealand and Burgundy.
I got there around 7:00 p.m. and there were already a ton of people there. It was exciting. There are so many good, cool people in the Oregon wine industry. I grabbed a glass and headed toward the back porch that’s designed like the inside of a barn. I poured a glass of pink bubbly. The table was lined with wine bottles.
Eventually, I made my way to the food line and grabbed a plate. I knew I was going to risk gluten contamination. Still, I was as careful as I could be. I didn’t even go near the dessert table. So, I took a deep breath and sipped on a small pour of white Bordeaux while we moved toward the food. I chatted with our winemaker and one of his colleaguesm, also in line. Once it was my turn at the table, I selected succulent pork, farm fresh cole slaw and a hearty side of black bean rice.
After I ate, and while Jackstraw began sereneding the crowd, I met some of my gal pals under a tree filled with white lights for a photo. Sadly, you can’t see all the twinkly lights in these shots.
The band was pretty amazing. After a few sets, the next entertainment for the evening began. A troupe of fire dancers did a wild and mesmerizing performance in the middle of the street, which was closed off for an entire block.
The fire dancers finished performing just after 11:30 or so. I was tired. I had a sleeping bag in my car and the option to crash there, but I was ready to go home. I didn’t drink very much and felt like the responsible party-goer. So, I got in my car and drove home.
And, I reflected a little. There was something magical in the air. We were getting ready for harvest. Very soon, the grapes would start getting picked and would be pressed into juice, along with the skins and seeds, and would then ferment into wine. We could count on this every year. I liked the steadiness of agriculture, of seasons changing, of vines that would grow such beautiful grapes. I loved the potential for greatness and the risk of imperfection. The latter, the idea of risk, had been something channeling and, perhaps, challenging me.
Which is, it seems, a great seque to love. It’s not the easy circumstances in life that force us to grow. Rather, it is the chance for disappointment and disaster that really challenges us to grow. I’ve heard that love is gentle, love is kind. But I have never known that to be true. Rather, it is filled with uncertainties, challenges, questions – often rough and unkind. So why do it, why bother with love?
I’ve learned that risks in life are necessary for personal growth. Okay, that might sound very “new age book store” material. But, it is true. When we work at love, when we muddle through the sometimes mucky side of love, when we are forced to open it up like a dissected heart, to look within, to really examine what we see, good or bad, we become better versions of ourselves – the versions that have had the courage to dig into those unpleasant corners or to bravely face the beautiful parts that were always there, all along. When we take the risk to open up and welcome in love, we are most deserving.
I had been spending years running away from romantic love. Call it fear, which is fare blame, but, mostly, it hadn’t occurred to me that I should be in a relationship or in love. Instead, I kept on my path. I dared to learn about who I was, what I’m all about, and why I have been placed here on this earth. I have been seeking, in many ways, to identify and understand my gifts, and to learn how to use them to make this world a better place. It’s a theme that has run through this blog, even. Meantime, I had been protecting myself and preventing my potential for for growth.
When I got through most of this blog entry, I took in my own risk assessment and settled that I had been coasting along on the safety bus. Thankfully, I am ready to take a step off. I am ready and willing to take some risks.