Stressing Vines

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To the uninitiated, it may come as a surprise that the only way to produce plump, juicy and flavourful grapes needed for winemaking must be by stressing the grapevine from where they come. That is, vines can only produce berries when it lacks nutrients and water because its very own existence is on the line. It must force itself to go deep into the earth, through its roots, to find and extract any available water. If it cannot, it perishes. If it succeeds, then we celebrate by making wine with its delicious grapes.

Nature has an interesting way of mirroring our own reality: some of us have been blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) to have experienced life’s stresses. Whether this has been by the actions of others, by our environment, by unforeseen changes or by our own choice we’ve experienced lack – both material and psychological lack of resources. So how do we stay alive? Are we capable of reaching deep within ourselves to find the resources we need to adapt to the many stresses life throws at us? And can we come out triumphant afterwards, with a wonderful story, gift or trophy to present to the world?

There are those who thrive under these conditions. And those that perish. I know an incredible woman who left her native country of Chile with only $1000 in her bank account, three young children to take care of, and embarked on a journey of creating a new life in a new country. She left behind her family, her friends, her career and surely part of herself. There was nothing that awaited her in the new country. She had to build her life from zero. And she succeeded. Today, she lives in a beautiful home in Toronto, works as a psychologist, and travels the world to visit her daughters and her grandson.  When I ask my mother how she did it, her response is always the same: “I had no other option. I had to succeed.”

If it’s one thing we can learn from nature, from these vines, is that even when our external world looks bleak, when we lack the material resources we need, there is always a drop of water deep down inside. We must force ourselves to find it, we must dig deep because our only other option is to perish. And that is not much of an option.

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