For 37 years I have been wandering far from home, so far and so long that home no longer exists. Family has spread out, diaspora-like, and with it the world has effused with population and information. So much now that it appears as if we all are wanderers, homeless, without a base. Except for the connection we all seem to have, this talking to one another, be it in person or in some kind of virtual way.
Teilhard de Chardin's notion of the noosphere and the layer of consciousness we find ourselves virtually ensconced, how fitting that it was done so quickly, so seamlessly. And yet here we are, arguing, sometimes, violently, about the way to spell Abraham's name.
The Italian American writer, Gay Talese, on writing about Frank Sinatra, noted the Sicilian concept of uomini rispettati - men of respect:
While many people who have read these words think he is talking solely about a mafia-like culture, those with Sicilian blood know this is deeper and older than that. Its origin is more likely the Nile Valley than Caltanissetta. It is also most likely the source of many of today’s conflicts, albeit skewed by centuries of time and sand and swagger and hate. But I’m not talking about that interpretation.In traditional Sicily there is what havelong been called uomini rispettati -men of respect: men who are bothmajestic and humble, men who areloved...men who exact respect fromothers and who should not be harmed.
Over the weekend, I went into a new restaurant in the town I live in now for more years of my life than anywhere else combined. My “new” home. And waiting there were wines on the list, from Italy, and people who were staffing the place who were engaging, welcoming and respectful. And for that brief moment, I luxuriated in the glow of acceptance and, with no small dose of humility, accomplishment. It was one of those moments in which I felt my work in wine and Italian wine had taken hold. I clutched it for just a moment, as one can only do with particles of light and stardust. But what a defining moment it was to me.
There is hope. There are pathways. There is a future. And there is a place at the American table for Italy and her wines. And for this wayward son.
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