Sunday, October 13, 2013

For Us, There is Only the Trying

And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate —but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
                                                                                 -T.S. Eliot

Unable to post on Thursday; travel, work, distraction, exhaustion. Sometimes it happens. It’s only a blog, not some heraldic solution to the world’s problems. Life gets in the way, princess.

The T.S. Eliot segment from his Four Quartets says in many ways better what I tried to write and most likely what will show up on this post. But there is the trying; so forward, onward through the fog.

Where was I? I was in a restaurant, talking to a restaurateur about food. And wine. We were eating some schiacciata and talking about eggplant, street food in Palermo and Roman delicacies. And then it hit me. The bliss button was pushed. “This is what I am meant to do, not all that other stuff,” the little voice repeated. “The rest is not our business.”

I’ve been lamenting not being in Italy this year at harvest time, the first time in eight years. For whatever reason, the stars have not aligned. I so wanted to crush Nerello with my feet in a palmento on Etna with the musicians playing tarantella songs in a dry corner of the lagar. “Neither gain nor loss,” the little voice twitters.

In a winery, at the beginning of summer, on the west coast of Sicily. We’re walking down a row of stainless steel tanks, taking samples as we go. We shuffle through the space, turn right; go through a hallway and another set of doors to a room filled with barrels. The room is musty, cool, wet. We walk aisle to aisle; the winemaker is introducing me to his many children in barrel. We taste here, there. In the wine business we do it often, even make fun of it. Not this time. Again the little voice inside presses the bliss button with the refrain, “this is where you are meant to be: right here, right now.”

The loss of hope is more powerful than a gun or a sword. To give up at the beginning or at the end, either is not an option. You are never where you are not meant to be. One is always here and now. And this particular here and now, while challenging and vexing to many if not all of us, it is the battleground.

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again

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