Music is so powerful it can have us laughing at grief; yoga can break down all barriers between us without even trying; but what’s so spiritual about wine?
The Obvious Universal Language
We sing to it, dance and clap to it, write it, sit in silent awe of it… music spans language, race, religion, culture — bringing people together in a way like no other.
It’s different for everyone, but songs, composers, instruments, techniques, artists living or dead: all have the power to transform us and stoke that inner flame.
Sometimes you drink too much and bow to the toilet. Sometimes you drive from point A to point B and have no idea how you got there. Sometimes you go around as if there’s a hazy film between you and the rest of the world. When you need the perfect song to sum up just how fucked up life can get —
Meet Ezra Furman’s Haunted Head.
Ezra Furman is an artist who captures the human condition in all of its raw glory
Haunted Head harkens back to the Doo-wop era with discordance both haunting and humorous
I take these aimless drives from two A.M. to four
I live these secret lives
Identities that all die off not one survives
By morning there’s nobody at the wheel
I’m having too much fun
My arms around the toilet like a long-lost chum
I’m kneeling at the throne
I’m stricken deaf and dumb
I’m learning what it means to really pray
As dire as the lyrics are, the tune is juxtaposed with ironic whimsy. Encouraging us to laugh, even at the darkest of times.
This song speaks to who I was while I was grieving my mother’s death: broken, desperately numb, flailing between the living and dead. Listening to this tune’s raw honesty and humor has a transformative effect and reminds me to smile at it all now.
It’s songs like this which teach us that no matter how bad the situation, none of us are going through it alone.
For more on Ezra Furman: https://www.facebook.com/ezrafurmanmusic
(he’s currently on tour and puts on a damn good live show. I’ve got my ticket!)
Can I Get a Witness!?
Have you ever held an animal and in one still, quiet moment felt the complete miraculousness of Being?
Last week, I was at a Super Bowl party and a small dog hopped onto my lap and fell asleep amidst all of the shouts and jeers. Far more interested in the dog than the game, I paid more attention to her: this living, breathing creature completely supported on my lap. This small mass of cells, shifting, fluctuating, functioning to make up a little living body.
In that instant of true witnessing, there was no difference between her body and mine, between me and her. We were one and the same: little bundles of star stuff swirling together in seeming solidity.
Yoga Challenge: This week, your challenge is to really witness someone
Whether it be an animal on your lap, a spouse you’re hugging, a child you’re holding, a butterfly in your palm…
- With a mindful breath, really feel this being in contact with you. The weight of them, their beating heart, warm skin, the rhythm of their breathing.
- Take a moment to tap into what they really are
- See if you can feel beyond the idea of separation between you and them. Beyond the difference between the make-up of their cells and the make-up of yours
- Ask yourself, How does witnessing them in this way speak the universal language? How does it change you?
Bearing witness to someone, you would expect only to see them more clearly, but in truth, it’s more like looking in a mirror. Barriers break down, beyond race, religion, gender, age, species: and in seeing them, we get a glimpse of the universal language.
How Is Wine a Universal Language?
Wine, when appreciated is nothing short of a spiritual experience
The more you get into wine, the more sacred it becomes. Considering a single glass of wine very swiftly becomes so vast it’s like splitting the atom.
It begins in your glass. The liquid seductively swirling around, with so much depth from a single fruit that we can detect flavors across the food spectrum. Aromas ranging from cherry, plum and smoke, to cured meat, tobacco and bell pepper, to butterscotch, apple and clove. You can get an entire meal in one sip. Then there’s all of the work that went into that single glass of wine…
The bottle and label makers, the viniculturists concocting the best blends, workers picking and sorting the grapes, farmers tilling the land… and it doesn’t stop in this lifetime. Wine links us to history through the people who originally planted grape vines eons ago, likely pre-dating the ancient Romans and Greeks.
Going beyond people in our atom-splitting exercise: wine connects us to the winds, rain and sun, to the topography of the land and geology of the soil. It paints a picture of a very different earth in distant history. Most Limestone for example, is made up of marine fossils, highly condensed over thousands of years; harkening to a time when much of the earth was covered in water.
In that single sip, you’re tasting the terroir: the climate from the year the grapes were harvested, the soil from eons of topographical evolution, flavors from nearby crops, such as the lavender fields of Provence…
It’s impossible not to think big picture if you fractalize wine in this way. Of course, this is true of much of what we consume; but wine is my favorite example.
Next time you take a sip of wine:
- Take a moment to think about all that went into its existence
- Consider how that sip spans space and time, containing within it the language of all things
- And remember, the Son of God bothered to turn water into wine, so there must be something to it
NEXT WEEK: Starting at the very beginning: The ABC’s of Wine
A is for Amarone…