Had to buy this t-shirt didn’t I?
“Ageing to Perfection” what a super blog topic! And wouldnt it be a great title for a new movement, one dedicated to creating an enviable new life goal, the reaching of a delightfully mellow maturity……Like a fine wine?
The t-shirt was in the shop of one of the beautiful vineyards in FransHoek, South Africa. FransHoek is a historic small town originally settled by emigre Huguenots in 1699. It is set in a lush green valley in a cup of striking mountains.
The original homesteaders didn’t see it like that. They were given only tools, seed and bush land. Over time, by hard work, they created this charming community and their own architecture: lovely white manor houses in the Cape Dutch style surrounded by vineyards.
So very lucky to be here in my 83rd year. (Actually a special trip for my wine loving husband’s 80th). Finding the t- shirt seemed so appropriate.
Love the idea of maturing beautifully, and “Ageing to Perfection”
How does something age perfectly? How do you judge perfection?
The vintners here seemed to know.
For wine the perfection starts with the soil, the grape and its growing experience. The weather affects it, so does the vintners care: pruning, training and keeping healthy. And of course sex plays its part.
There is a point at which the grape is deemed ripe, and the harvest begins. The essences of all these life experiences concentrate, ferment, and blend. The sharp notes of youth are softened, the deep notes from the later tougher skin emerge and the richness of periods of sun and of bleak cold are balanced.
Allowed peace in oak barrels, the emergent wine is now ready to mellow, to mature, to achieve perfection.
What a delightful thought, that our lives are rather like that of a grape. Our tended youth, fizzing twenties, settling mid years leading to later years where we develop to the stage of ripe fullness: a time when we reflect back on life, review it, relish it and extract from it all the best of what we have experienced.
And then drink and enjoy!
Odd isnt it, that we value and appreciate the delight of maturity in wines, but have somehow lost the ability to recognise it as a pleasure in our own lives…..That is until you get there yourself.
Wine tasting. Life tasting.
What does an 80 year old mature life taste like? How would we judge it?
Wine critics usually look at 5 or so factors. They tend to rather fruity descriptions: ‘Notes of bitter peach, dark chocolate, a hint of elderberry’ Could well describe me? I rather hope so…But maybe we can be more down to earth.
You might like to think, what factors would you choose as important to reaching a mature delightful old age?
Mine are listed below, but before you go there, let me suggest we leave out health wealth, and looks. Yes, they seem obvious, but surprisingly research is increasingly showing that they are not essential to happiness. Accepting of course that unbearable pain and distressing poverty must be excluded, most people at all ages do, over time, adjust to loss and to physical problems.
Happiness evolves as you age. And evidence suggests that most older people say that they are happier than they ever were. It is the unexpected bonus of later years.
The key to a happy maturity is almost certainly attitude, so perhaps we might use that approach?
Here is the question:
What factors would we discover if we taste tested a life which we thought might be heading towards a mature old age?
Ie If we were setting off to create a mellow pleasurable life in later years, what attitudes would we be trying to cultivate? What do you think?
Here are my five:
A sense of humour …minimal acidity, no sour notes.
Full bodied joyous laughter at the nonsenses of life, the follies of youth, the pride of middle years and our all too human failings. Seen more clearly than ever as you age!
Would certainly think to find a hint of the giggles. What else when you contemplate sex at 80?
Confidence … knowing and expressing who you are.
You might say ‘Warts and all’. The sum total of your life out there, on show. No pretences, honest with the world and yourself. This is me!
Acceptance….savouring the flavour of life. And shareing it.
All the experiences, the errors, the progress, blending together to create a richer understanding of humanity. A recognition of the continual circles of change that make up human society. Takes time to aquire that sense of the human place in the natural world, but approaching the end, like wine, all becomes clearer, a mellowness emerges and radiates.
Curiosity .. still growing and exploring.
The sparkle stays alive. The questions and ideas never stop evolving… In wine terms, swill life around the tongue find new flavours from the barrel of todays world and blend intriguingly with recalled memories.
Warmth …exuding the love of life and the world.
Enjoying all of life and reflecting it. Accepting death but radiating the love of friends, family, the moment ……..the shining serenity of the twilight of life.