I say this because this time of the year there are all manner of hopefuls taking tests and preparing to enhance their career, their life even, with certifications, post-nominals and status. To those who have that constitution, I say, travel safe. Because you might find after you’ve sailed solo around the world in pursuit of your goal, you got want you wanted. But you didn’t find what you were looking for.
It happens all the time to ambitious people. I have a friend who is a successful entrepreneur. But as soon as he reaches his goal, he gets bored. He loves to climb up mountains, but tells me he really doesn’t relish the climb down.
A learned Jesuit told me, more than once, that when one gains knowledge one cannot sit alone in a library with it. It is a privilege to have been bestowed with that understanding. And in return for that gift, the payback is to give back to the world. Becoming a master, at anything, isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.
It’s much easier to see this now from the perspective of time. I cannot say I had any idea that the real teacher was time back when I was younger. I don’t think it is in most young people. There is the energy of youth, the excitement of being alive and new. Of having the brain fire quickly and the body able to respond with it. I look the upcoming generation with their confidence and their unblinking desire to grab the brass ring of life and get all they can from it. It’s probably why we are walking on two legs now, not scrambling around on all fours. But.
Yeah. But. What it seems one wants and what it really is when one gets it, can often be two different things. Why?
You can learn all the DOC’s and DOCG’s and IGT’s and the myriad of grape names and the top crus of Barolo and the greatest names in Brunello. Then what? Your head is crammed with all this stuff you have fed into it, when what it needs next is a little time to oxygenate. But you’re young and you want the world and you want it now. Yeah. I know.
The good news is you can take all the master classes you want. They won’t hurt. They can and will help. But the day you were born you were automatically enrolled in the greatest master class of all – life. And all it takes is paying a little attention and time. Yeah. Time.
What you do with it, though, how you cultivate your life in the time you have left, will be worth more than any degree or certification, any awards, accolades, money or anything else you can throw up against the wall to prove to yourself that your life is meaningful.
The beauty of time is the now-ness of it. Providing you are up for it, no matter how old you are, you are still in the moment. That’s what the centenarians in my world tell me. Yes, it’s a drag getting older. It’s no fun looking in the mirror and seeing some grey haired person staring back at you with bags under their eyes. But like the knowledge-filled soul in the library, walk away from the mirror, get up and go outside. Get on to what it is that makes life meaningful. The path, the wine trail, whatever it is that makes your heart beat faster. It’s that simple.
Come and get it. That’s mastery any of us can aim for.
written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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