Sunday, September 06, 2020

Dismantling the First Mountain

The life of a career. It’s a curious ascent. One spends so much energy in getting to the top of the mountain. To be the best. Number one. To master your craft. And to represent all that you stand (and climb) for the best that you can. To spend years climbing to the peak. To sacrifice any number of things, material and personal, in order to behold the sunrise at the summit. And then?

Then is now. How does the song go, “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is?” Well, I’m in the wind up of “then there is no mountain” stage. That first mountain has become an obstacle, and it must go.

And along with it, a lot of the habiliments that accompany it.

I’ve said many goodbyes to people and things during this moment of exile and self-examination. Just like in the garden, when a summer plant cannot live in the colder months, so it must be cleared out. Mind you, it isn’t just me doing it. It’s also being done to me. I’m no longer producing fruit, so I must not take up space in the garden. I’ve had my day; I’ve delivered my harvest. Now, it is on to the next mountain.

Does it mean I’m no longer a knight of the vine, or whatever it is they will now call it? Frankly, I don’t care. I spent 40 years doing what I did on those slopes. 40 harvests. Millions and millions of bottles of Italian wine. But the cycle doesn’t stop because someone gets off the merry-go-round. It needs to keep on spinning. But with younger energy. So it goes.

Years ago, I took apart a small building the owner of the property wanted to develop it into something else, and he gave me a couple of months to salvage the materials. You can learn a lot about building something by taking it apart. And I did. I took those materials and built a workshop and started a business.

So, I’m not thinking, necessarily, about blowing the mountain up. There are a lot of good bits in that first mountain. Maybe not for making a second one. Maybe just for the mindfulness one was given on that mountain, to know that even when it has been leveled, the climb isn’t over, not quite yet. But the shroud of unknowingness around the second one is lingering, like the fog one sees in Piedmont, around this time of the year, in those hills where the Nebbiolo and Barbera are coming into ripeness.

It’s funny, I wander around the screen before me and watch all the drama of those still climbing their first mountain. I did it too, so I cannot fault them or criticize them. They feel the urge to ascend and achieve. I understand. I’m just not there, anymore. I’m occupied with unveiling the shroud from before me, here on my new base camp, in this dawn of a new ascent.

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