The Power of Preservation and Pruning
There's a unique grapevine in Santorini, Greece producing some of the oldest grapes and most expensive wines. This vine spends cool, moist evenings soaking up as much moisture as it can to prepare for the next day's scorching.
The hot, dry days, impoverished soil, harsh winds, and ocean saltwater contribute to the adversity this grape will face throughout its 15-year development stage. It is not through sheer luck these grapes have survived.
The grapevines in Santorini naturally hug the earth, doing their best to protect themselves from the harsh elements. Harvesters also prune the vines to form a circular basket structure similar to a wreath. A style of growing known as a kouloura.
The result of careful pruning and instinctual preservation provides a refuge inside the wreath protected from the elements for the grapes to flourish. This masterful combination is proven effective when considering the length of time grapes need to grow to reach their maturity.
Personal Preservation Journey
The Santorini grape vines have become an icon for me in my own life.
The harsh elements I have faced over the years are varied. As a people pleaser, disapproval can often feel like the sting of salt water in a deep wound. While hiking the Grand Canyon last year as a family, I felt the weight of defeat under the dry, hot sun. That hike challenged every physical, mental, and emotional barrier in me. Professional and personal life experiences have felt the same.
Sometimes, I feel bombarded with a never-ending list of challenges and to-dos. This “tossing in the wind” can leave me feeling dizzy and directionless. Finally, my nourishment demands healthy foods, exercise, spiritual growth, quiet time to myself, and a strong community. When these requirements are lacking my soil can feel impoverished.
Preservation does not mean growth. Preservation keeps us from damage or decay. Preservation is just the beginning.
Unfortunately, external substances, activities, or internal beliefs can disguise themselves as instruments for preservation. For years I used alcohol as a tool to “preserve” my life. I cherished its powers to provide stress-relief, freedom from my thoughts, bursts of energy, and unencumbered joy.
While alcohol was able to provide momentary freedom, the lasting effects resulted in enslavement. My ability to produce fruit for my family and at work was stunted.
Considering the fruit your preservation methods yield will be the true measure of their value. Healthy preservation methods will yield good fruit: contentment, patience, thoughtfulness, gratefulness, and growth mindset to name a few.
Personal Pruning Journey
Recognizing areas of false preservation is one step, pruning them is another. Unlike preservation, pruning will help you to grow and flourish.
Cutting alcohol from life was like losing a best friend. I had relied on this friend to see me through some of the worst times in my life. This friend was always with me when it was time to celebrate. I had spent more of my life with this friend than without it! Rationalizations and internal battles fought to keep us together.
Ultimately, knowing my potential impact without it, defeated my selfish desire to cling to it.
I did not believe I could do what I was meant to do unless I was willing to become who I was supposed to become. Nor could I become who I was supposed to become unless I did what I needed to do.
This is true for all of us!
It has been almost three years since I cut alcohol from my life. My grief stage has ended. I'm living with more joy, contentment, and strength than expected. Relationships in my life have changed dramatically. Perhaps, none more significant than my relationship with my daughter.
Unique Nature vs. Unique Needs
At one time, I allowed an external substance to choke my daughters development and damage our relationship. Now, my daughter is one of many “grape bunches” maturing safely within my kouloura. My willingness to prune replaced anger, bitterness, guilt, shame, impatience, and sorrow with love, peace, joy, strength, gentleness, and clarity.
I love wine! Someday, I hope to taste the prized whites of Santorini, Greece. However, I understand that success is a journey, not a destination. Santorini's grapes are not the prize, their preservation and pruning journey is.
Rather than look forward to a reunion with an old friend, I will harness the life lesson Santorini grape vines offer. I will sip on the success that comes from healthy preservation and active pruning in my own life.
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