Sometimes certain life themes come across my mind, and then as I’m going throughout my day, whether at work or having a glass of vino somewhere, the theme or thoughts related to this theme will pop up again. But this time, I would appreciate it from a new and different angle. Its as if a “life theme” is a large stone. And me being a small creature, I am only able to glimpse certain facets of this large stone at a time…yet these facets all eventually tie together and are all apart of a larger theme.
So the Life Theme (oh yes I have capitalized the first letter of each word, thereby deeming it an official phrase!) that has been on my mind lately is how adversity, or how “the struggle” for living things in nature, seem to always result in an improvement of that thing.
For example, on our recent Napa trip, when learning about the grapes growing in a specific plot of land (Stagecoach vineyards, I believe) where it is difficult for the grapes to grow (due to the characteristics of the land etc), results in a grape that imparts a most lovely and complex flavor to wine. And indeed grapes grown in this region are in high demand by other wine makers. Chateaunuf-de-Pape, is yet another case in point—(I think I mentioned this when writing about our France trip last year) where the terroir of rocks forces the grape vines to struggle and as a result, yield a world-renowned wine.
Contrast this to those grapes grown in fertile, well-watered areas such as in certain farms of central California where those vines, babied as they are, are only good for box wines and grape juice (which, don’t get me wrong, have their rightful place in the world but let us just assign them to being low on the totem pole, in terms of quality wine, for the sake of my analogy 🙂
Hah, of course I must relate something to wine—but there are other examples in nature beyond my beloved vino! For example, something I recently came across at work, while researching antioxidants to keep our skin looking young and healthy I learned about quinoa. Did you know that one of the most antioxidant-rich quinoa is found in Chile, due to the harsh heat? It is precisely the harsh environment that compels the quinoa plant to struggle ever so much more than its other species, yielding a higher antioxidant content compared to his relatives that grew up in a more comfy environment. Heck you can even apply this to “farm-raised” vs. “wild-caught” fish—Lets look at Mr. Salmon who has a higher content of those good ole omega fats and other nutrients than those of his farm-raised buddies.
Of course, I realize there are limitations to these examples of this Life Theme; being Mrs. Black Thumb, I have overwhelmed many a plant who just couldn’t survive “the struggle” of no water or too much sun or no soil nutrients that I so ignorantly forced upon them (but imagine the super power plant that could emerge from that!).
So now that I am writing this all out, I am beginning to see that indeed Darwin has kind of already touched on this, most obviously, with his “survival of the fittest.” But I believe that his phrase just touches on only a portion of the overall Life Theme that I am pondering (i.e. a chunk of the overall “stone” that is the Life Theme). His phrase describes the outcome of this adversity and evolution etc. whereas I would like to focus more on the actual adversity’s relationship with the being (grape vine, quinoa plant) and how it shapes/impacts the outcome (wine, food), and in particular I want to explore how this Life Theme applies to us people!
Looking at my own life, I would say a “struggle” period occurred for me during what I refer to as my “early-twenties crisis” (yes it came upon much earlier than the traditional “mid-life crisis” 😉 where a series of experiences and realizations hit me, opening my eyes to the fruitless and even self-detrimental mindset of following a path to happiness defined by “others” (insert for others, societal expectations, parental expectations, etc.).
And from that, amongst other experiences, I learned the simple and pure salvation of having the courage to define one’s own definition of happiness (because afterall, you’re the one who has to live your life, not these other people) and once you reach this powerful realization, it is a beautiful harmonious and peaceful feeling. And as a result, I now understand better what all of these religions are talking about–Love, Inner Peace, Enlightenment, Detachment from earthly things etc.).
In addition, after understanding the beauty and uniquness of my own path, I then realized the importance of truly appreciating and respecting that everyone else, also has their own and unique path in life–and sure you have the right to have an opinion of other life paths, but to quickly condemn or to condescendingly impose your opinion would be a sad reflection of your own narrow and un-enlightened mind.
So then I thought well what happens when you have learned this “lesson” and have found happiness and balance and really are truly fulfilled in your life? What then? Should you be going out to create more “adversity experiences”? Have I become complacent? That troubled me somewhat…but after having a lovely conversation about this with my dear buddie CA, I gained some clarification on this whole life analogy/the struggle thing, which is:
Life is a journey–not a stagnant dot-on-a-map. So one is always, constantly, even in the state of being fully happy and fulfilled, working at it and one should always try to be vigilant of trying new experiences to expand one’s mind ever more. (Kind of like homeostasis in good ole biology—even “at rest” our cells are all working hard, metabolizing, doin their thang to keep us “at rest”…amazing how philosophical life analogies can be found in nature eh? 🙂
Ahhh that was my heh, philosophical brain exercise for the month!