I don't want to talk about my 2017 resolution just yet. I am now reflecting on 2016's journey, and what it taught me a year later.
In January of 2016, the political primary races were in full swing as the primary schedule was newly set, everyone was still losing their minds over a mediocre Star Wars movie, and I made the decision to try something I have always wanted to do. I started making wine. A year later I am still working on this, and looking back I have discovered that it has taught me several valuable lessons.
The first batches I made, as should have probably been expected, were not the best. Bits of it were downright awful. Some of it was so bad I just poured it out to reclaim the bottles. Air was getting in because I made some mistakes during fermentation, and I ended up with bottles that definitely had a vinegary note to them. Yes, some of that got poured out as well, but I actually discovered that it made a decent marinate over pork in my crock pot. I learned I could fail and yet adapt, and also that even in failure my work wasn't completely wasted.
As the months went on, I learned that wine making is much more an art as it is a science, something I genuinely love about this process. Art, like wine making, activates all of your senses. The containers I use are glass, so at first I would look for the bubbles to see that it was beginning to ferment. I quickly discovered that fermentation also has an aroma to it, one that I actually don't mind. To me, it smells like progress, though I'll admit the smell isn't for everyone. As I got further into the year, I was fascinated to discover that I also could hear when the wine was fermenting. Gasses are released, and I could often hear that small hiss, and even more importantly hear when it was no longer hissing. It was learning to use those senses that was such a joy for me, because I had to learn to trust myself.
Batch after batch slowly honed each of my senses' skills, which was another wonderful lesson. I have made many different types of wine with different fruit combinations, and I discovered that no two fruits ferment the same way. That is part of the beauty of it. Each one has it own required skill and senses needed to make a good bottle, and that is okay.
I learned that, even in wine, diversity is beautiful because otherwise life would be incredibly boring.
I could keep going on and on about the lessons homemade wine making has taught me, from how experimentation is risky and that's why you should do it to how knowing what bottles stack better changes how you view what wine you buy at the liquor store because your perspective has changed, but I simply want to challenge you. Try something new. What have you always wanted to do but have been afraid you'll be awful at it? We all have something. My challenge to you is to go out and do it, and see what lessons it teaches you. Don't be afraid to be awful at it, because that will teach you something, too.
In 2017 I plan to try to learn calligraphy. I can't wait to see what it teaches me.
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