Life Lessons From A Grape

Life Lessons From A Grape July 29, 2022

One of my life’s passions is gardening. Though it is just a hobby, I take it very seriously. When my plants are healthy, I am happy. As the old saying goes, “Happy plant, happy Matt.”

Currently, I manage two gardens: one at my home in Chico, Ca and another at my best friend’s in Paradise. Because the latter property is huge – around an acre in size – the garden, too, is massive. And on top of that, we have an orchard and even a vineyard. For a Hobbit in all but size like myself, it truly is paradise.

The other day, I noticed some of our black monukka wine grapes had undergone enough veraison to pick (veraison is the official term for the onset of the ripening of grapes). Because our plants are young, we aren’t making any wine yet. So, I decided to snack on them to see how they were tasting.

Oh. My. God.

They were absolutely delicious.

Now, the first couple I snacked on were devoured in typical Western fashion: throw them in your mouth, chew them up really quick, and swallow. After that, I slowed down. I wanted to taste what the future wine might taste like. So, I took the next grape and instead of immediately chewing it up, I just bit down enough to break the skin, allowing the juice to flow out. That’s when I realized how sweet grape juice is. It wasn’t until I started chewing on the skin when I experienced the astringency of the tannins. Almost immediately, my mouth went from tasting the sweetness of the grape juice to being completely dry and puckered.

Don’t think this was a negative feeling, however. It was just different than feeling the pure sweetness of the juice. Combined, it made for a magical experience that I repeated maybe thirty times until half of the fruit was gone.

Then it got me thinking (dangerous, I know).

How often do we miss the intricacies and nuances of life simply because we refuse to slow down? Had I continued to eat the grapes as most Americans do – closer to how a puppy eats their bowl of kibble – I would have missed all those different experiences I just talked about. I would have tasted the grape to some degree, but I wouldn’t have gotten to know it in the same intimate way. I wouldn’t have noticed the difference in taste and sensation of the juice and the skin. It would have just been “a grape.” A good grape, but just a grape.

This is where presence is needed. To be in the moment is to slow down and actually pay attention. But more than that, it is to pay attention to the sensations you have in your body when you notice certain things. The rushed Matt could have eaten the grapes while thinking about all the projects that need to be finished – the books, the podcasts, the audio editing, and so on. And on some days, that’s exactly the Matt that needs to exist. There is nothing wrong with considering all the things that need to be accomplished. But other times, we need to slow down so that in our hurriedness we don’t miss all the details that make for an interesting life.

So, take it from me and my friend the monukka grape: slow down. Enjoy the subtleties of your experiences. Feel what your are experiencing. And while it’s okay to grind from project to project in order to try to get ahead in life, make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of actually experiencing life. Because then, what’s it all for?


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About Matthew J. Distefano
Matthew J. Distefano is an author, blogger, podcaster, and social worker. He lives in Northern California with his wife and daughter You can read more about the author here. You can read more about the author here.

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