So, What Vintage Are You?

September is my birthday month, and thankfully, I’m turning another year older.  I am now firmly into my fourth decade–or as my husband corrected–fifth decade, because you count 0 to 10 as your first decade…..okay—whatever!  The bottom line….I am forty-something and well into the journey of my life.  And, with this understanding, I started considering the passing years and what “age” means to me.

As someone who’s interested in wine, I completed an introduction/level I sommelier wine course with my husband about a year and a half ago.  When I began writing this post, I started thinking about aging in wine and aging in life.  I thought about  the grapevine’s journey versus our own journeys.  Young grapevines have vigor and brightness, but it’s the older vines that are the most sought after to make the best wines.  This is partially because the vines take on the nuances of their environment:  lavender, blackberries, mushrooms, roses, and the minerality of the soil, and as vines age, they produce a delightful complexity and intensity in their fruit.  These extra years are prized and celebrated, because in viticulture, time is allowed for character to express itself.  It’s understood that many vintages will pass before a vineyard will start to show its magic.  From the vineyard to the cellar, respect for the aging process continues.  A particular set of environmental conditions is cultivated to help the wines age:  dark cellars, correct humidity, constant and perfect temperature, and no excessive light or continuous vibration.  It’s not about holding on to the youthful characteristics of the wine, but developing and celebrating its aged ones.  This, however, is NOT society’s view on aging in people.  The virtues of youth are everywhere in the media–television and magazine ads promising eternal youth in lotions, creams, and various procedures.

Our culture is obsessed with being young; however, the ironic thing is that when we ARE young, we CAN’T WAIT to be….OLD ENOUGH.  Old enough to drive, to have a first job, to date, to vote, to legally drink, to live on our own, and to get married and have a family.  Then, finally, we are old enough, and that’s great!  We’re old enough to have important commitments and responsibilities as well as make our own decisions, live with the consequences, and endeavor to create meaningful lives.  Sometimes, though, in the midst of creating our lives, it would be nice to have a “pause” button.  A button that we could just press for a while, to savor life:  momentous occasions, career milestones, and happy times with family.

Regretfully, there is no pause button, and the years go by faster and faster.  One day, we wake-up and realize that we are, indeed, OLD ENOUGH.  Yes, we have a few extra fine lines and wrinkles from smiling or frowning too much–whatever the case may be– and, some of those stubborn, wiry-gray hairs that insist on sticking up in the middle of our heads.  We now notice that the teenager bagging groceries looks about 8-years-old and just called us “ma’am,” while asking if we need help getting our groceries to the car.  We also appreciate getting carded:  reacting as though we just won a prize, especially when said 8-year-old grocery bagger cards us for our bottle of chardonnay.  And, sometimes we get little aches and pains from doing everyday chores like vacuuming, as if cleaning the house wasn’t a pain enough.  Of course, one of my personal favorites is having to change my entire pajama ensemble in the middle of the night—right down to my unmentionables, because I just spontaneously combusted from a hot flash from hell.  Yeah, good times!

What I really think is that every stage of life has its challenges and rewards, but it’s up to us to develop the right perspective.  Truthfully, I like my age and where I am in life.  I really don’t want to go back to my twenties or thirties.  I enjoyed my time there, mostly, but it wasn’t perfect:  I wasn’t as confident, I worried a lot, and I was more stressed.  Today, I like who I’ve become, and that only happened because I lived through and endured four decades—four decades, where I learned compassion for myself and others, to act and not react, to forgive, and to see the beauty in all things.  Most of us are not born knowing all of this.  We require many vintages and maybe a little cellaring for our character to fully express itself.

The best part about aging, in my opinion, is knowing.  Knowing who we are and being fine with it—flaws and all; knowing our values:  what we stand for and what we won’t fall for; knowing that it really doesn’t matter what others think of us and finally believing it; knowing how to let go of negativity and embrace joy; knowing how to quieten all of the noise in our minds and only hear our own voices; and finally, like wine, knowing that life gets more complex with age–but it also gets better.

It’s taken every day of my life to create who I am right now, and I’m happy with the person I’ve become.  I wouldn’t give her up for fewer wrinkles, gray hairs, or moments of heartbreak.  At my core, I’m still the same girl on the inside that I was in my teens, twenties, and thirties—just a more contented, confident, and joyful version.  I believe that on this journey I’ve known people and situations that were meant to shape my perspective, adding flavor and interest to my life—in a way, like the grapevine that soaks up its environment and is affected by its surroundings.

Here’s the thing:  Instead of dreading each passing year or seeing age as something negative, we should celebrate how we’ve evolved by finding meaning in our experiences, embracing joy, and uplifting others.  Each of our lives is unique and places us in a special position to offer something, that perhaps, no one else can.  Age shouldn’t be about a number or wrinkles on our faces, it should be about celebrating the people we’ve become.  The point of our lives IS age:  to develop, to change, to become more complex—just like those lovely grapevines and the wine they produce.  It’s not about trying to be what we once were, but becoming what we can be.

Categories: Photography, Wine

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  1. I am at the beginning of my 60’s (not 6th decade, 60’s). I am enjoying life more now than since I entered my 20’s; I’m having almost as much fun as when I was in my teens. When I was in my 50’s I met a gentleman on a trail maintenance project (actually two gentlemen) that I ended up admiring. The one had just finished a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon, his wife gave him the trip to celebrate his 80th birthday. The other person was a leatherneck from WWII, we had just cut down a 10″ (diameter) dead tree to clear from the area, he goes down to the bottom of the tree, picks it up with one arm, then asks if we’re going to pick up the rest or if he’s going to have to carry it alone. At the time my thought was (and is), “Damn! I hope I’m that good when I get to their age.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautifully expressed, Tonya. I’m about twenty years older than you and like you, I wouldn’t want to go back. I’m happy where I am in my life and wouldn’t trade knowledge for years at this point. There are times I wonder how it would feel to be young again but that’s more physical than anything and it’s really a passing thought, sort of like when I finish playing a basketball game with my teenage nephews and It takes me a day to recover..:)
    Have a great birthday and relish the days and years that brought you to this place in life. Enjoy another trip around the sun..:)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent blog, Tonya, that was a joy to read. With age has come wisdom and a joy which is obvious. I’m happy to know you. Cheers and welcome to another year of making memories and touching the hearts of others!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy birthday. Our youth obsessed market place aside, the good news about getting ‘old’ is that it isn’t the same as dying…in fact, it is the price we pay for staying alive….and the reward is that we tune out the other aspect of our youth obsessed marketplace which tells us which hot new ‘thing” is cool and young’ so we can have our very own prefabricated good old days. My grandmother used to say that ‘age’ is an incident. Every stage of life has meaning and purpose. When the marketplace goes silent on us we discover what we really think and really want.

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  5. We are only as old as the age that we see ourselves in our mind. That is the age with which we answer when some asks unexpectedly Right now, how old are you in your mind. My favorite answer to that question came from a 60s+ plus lady who responded immediately I am 17, but my parts don’t work as well as they did. So, how old are you in your mind?

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  6. We share your interest in wine and intend to cultivate vines and try our hands atvoroducing a few bottles when we settle back in France a little way down the road. I consider myself (also a September baby and well into my 6th decade by your husbands logic) to be a fine and improving vintage as, my dear young friend, are you! I simply loved this reflective and celebratory piece and I say happy birth Sepember Twin 🎂🍾🍷🎉🎈🎁🎀

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  7. I can’t beleive it’s been a year since I read this post, commented and wished you a Happy Birthday? Really? A whole year? Well, Happy Birthday once again young lady.
    This has always been one of my favorite posts of any I’ve read while blogging, because it’s so honest and very well written.
    I wish we could freeze time once in a while though I’m always excited about what the next day might bring. As we get older there’s a reality that everyone has to accept at some point but regardless of age, we should never stop celebrating life each day.
    The only thing that bothers me about aging in this country is how little value they place on the elderly. In other countries age is revered. In this country the elderly are pushed aside in our rush to get to wherever we need to be.
    To use your analogy, many people pay more attention to aged wine than aged humans. I hope that changes one day.
    You make so many excellent points here, we can discuss it all day..:)
    Love this post. Thank you for re-posting it. I enjoyed reading it again in my smith or seventh decade, depending on who’s definition we’re using today..:)
    Have a wonderful birthday celebration!!😊🍰🎈🎂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so very much for the lovely birthday wishes and most generous and thoughtful comments regarding my post, George. 😊

      I agree with your sentiments about how aging is viewed in this country. It’s very short-sighted. Older adults have much to contribute on many levels: experience, perspective/ point-of-view, and wisdom. And, when they’re ignored, our country and society are the poorer for it. The thing is “this pushing aside” of older Americans to move on to something else, isn’t just about people. In my opinion, it’s an overall attitude that’s indicative of the values of today’s society: quantity over quality, easy road instead of effort, sound bites over developed, intelligent, and thoughtful expression, etc. It’s really very disheartening. But, I think if more and more older people are engaged, and don’t tolerate ageism stereotypes, then one day things will change. I’m hopeful. 🙂

      Thank you, again, for your kind feedback. It’s always nice to hear from you!😊🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Absolutely loved reading this post. I share your outlook towards age and experiences. we are shaped by our environment. There are lots of “could have” moments….but that’s life! You’re right the world celebrates youth partly because of consumerist culture I guess! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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