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Pinot Noir or Cabernet?

12 Comments 22 June 2010

I think I have lived my life, even from childhood with the rhythm and words of Gloria Gaynor’s song, I Will Survive playing in my head.  My friend, J, who used to be my counselor has even said to me, “You are a survivor, a fighter, and that’s not a bad thing.”  But being a survivor hasn’t always yielded the best of who I am to the world around me.  Survivors manage.  We make it.  We get through, but we don’t necessarily thrive.  As a I read Sue Monk Kidd’s book, When the Heart Waits again these past couple of days (yes, finished the whole stinkin’ thing 😉 ) I was reminded why I enjoyed it so much the first time.

Kidd talks about the importance of differentiating the True Self from the various false selves that we have created over the first half of our life.  She is very clever in naming her false selves, most of them are compared to fairy tale characters.  I am finding it a very useful and demanding process to consider what my false selves might be, but one that comes to mind readily is one I will call “The Survivor.”  She (I am not sure why I am speaking in third-person, but go with it!) is the girl who even when she is overlooked, wounded, misunderstood or alienated, will seem aloof and unaffected, although in reality, her heart is as tender as can be and easily broken.  She has learned that you must take care of yourself, defend yourself and make a way for yourself or no one else will.  She does not want to be a burden to anyone for fear that they might find her needy and leave her.  She looks very strong and very capable, yet she has a frailty that few know about.  She sees this frailty as her kryptonite, the secret source of her weakness, that if discovered, will destroy her.

Okay, so I am being a bit cartoonish, but that is a false self that I do believe that I have put out there to the world at large and in my relationships for my entire forty-two years.  I don’t want to be a bother or a burden, I am a survivor.  I will be fine.  This type of thinking can land you in some lonely spots and create a world around you that assumes you are, well…fine!  For me, it is also a false self that has kept me from flourishing, from thriving and growing into a fuller expression of my True Self.  It feeds the idea that I can take care of the world, bear the burdens of the world and I need little care-taking myself.  I know all of the “self” talk can make some people get all eye-rolly (I am making this a word!), but it is a great exercise nonetheless.

I have mentioned that I love movies and especially ones in which I find meaningful quotes I can tie to a greater mosaic of ideas that I am churning around in my head.  One of those movies is Sideways, it was a surprise hit a few years ago and brought my favorite wine, Pinot Noir into the spotlight.  The movie itself had some themes worth considering, but if you have a hard time with language or adult themes, you better skip it.  In the movie, the main character loves Pinot Noir, he is obsessed with it and when asked about his affection for this particular grape, this is the exhange:

“Why are you so into Pinot? It’s like a thing with you.”

“Um…I don’t know…I don’t know. It’s a hard grape to grow.  As you know, right? It’s uh – It’s thin-skinned – temperamental, ripens early.  It’s – you know, it’s not a survivor…like a cabernet, which can grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected.  No, pinot needs constant care and attention, you know?  And in fact, it can only grow in these specific, little tucked-away corners of the world.  And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it really.  Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression.  And then…I mean…oh, it’s flavors they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ancient on the planet.  No, I mean, you know, cabernets can be powerful and exalting too, but they seem prosaic to me for some reason, by comparison…I don’t know…I don’t know.”

When I heard this in the movie it got me, you know…it stuck with me.  I of course went back later and found it.  So today, I am pulling it out again.  I am looking at my false selves and I am declaring to the world that I am not a Cabernet, I am a Pinot Noir.  There is no glory in being tougher than I really am, nothing special about pretending to be stronger than I really am.  Kidd doesn’t advocate trying to throw out these false selves, but instead to embrace and integrate them into our True Self.  I think it has been a good thing for me to consider these last couple of days that my kryptonite does not have to bring about my demise.  I believe that God is my caretaker and he made me a Pinot Noir.  I must be patient and nurturing with my own soul.  Frailty, tenderness, the need to be cared for and given attention are not altogether negative things.

All of us are Pinots to some degree, even if we pretend to be Cabs, yet so many women spend their lives neglecting their souls as if it is the noble and honorable thing to do.  I want to find my corner of the world.  The corner in which I grow best and yield my most haunting, brilliant, thrilling, subtle and ancient flavors!  If that means that I must embrace my Survivor and expose my kryptonite, so be it.  So I ask you, Pinot Noir or Cabernet?


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12 Comments so far

  1. Silver says:

    I am both pinot and cabernet. All my writing about superpowers is tangled with dichotomy and projection. That which I wish to heal in others I look to heal in myself. I like this post a lot. Often it is when we admit our frailty that we seem the strongest to others. Odd, that. And true.

    • Jorja says:

      Silver, I think I will always have the strength and power of a Cab, but I think I am just coming to embrace my Survivor, my tender Pinot. I think when we move forward ourselves and are able to invite others into that journey they grow along with us. Thanks for the encouragement and for reading. Look forward to meeting you in NYC.

  2. April says:

    I have always struggled with feeling like a burden to others as well. I am always feeling guilty that I need “constant care and attention…” to be “coaxed into my fullest expression.” But it is true! I do! I am definitely a Pinot. This gives me lots to think about for sure. Thank you!

  3. lois says:

    Definitely a pinot. Or a peanut. I am embracing my inner wimp after trying to be tough my whole life. Lucky you figured it out BEFORE your heart attack 🙂

  4. jo says:

    This is great Jorja…I’ve always said you’re an awesomely open writer…try emdr for some of those negative beliefs that hang on though!
    love ya you know that

    • Jorja says:

      Jo, how’s disney? so excited to have you drop by and read a little! so, i need some emdr, huh? love you too friend!

  5. Kara says:

    oh. my. golly. now *this* is a doozie! i loved every true word and every brave thought. i am so glad you opened up your heart to share it all. it reminds me of the Jeff Buckley song, that love (or life in this case) is not a victory march, but a broken hallelujah. i dunno bout you, but i’d rather be hallelujah-ing than marching.

    in other related news, i think you may be my soul twin, separated at birth. 😉 i am 42 years young, and an ENFP. clearly, you plaigarized your mission statement from what’s floating around in my head. course, you actually wrote it down (over achiever) and i just finally pulled my pen out 😉

    lamott, kidd and nowen are some of my faves. jinx, you owe me a coke! trouble knows my name, too (pronounced car-uh instead of care-uh). i’ve been thrust into a cab-demanding posture toward life and have in recent years dipped my toe in the cool merciful glass of pinot until i couldn’t resist jumping in like a cannonball and splashing around in the grace of it all. makes me think of a passage from another favorite writer of mine, annie dillard:

    “A high school stage play is more polished than this service we have been rehearsing since the year one. In two thousand years, we have not worked out the kinks. We positively glorify them. Week after week we witness the same miracle: that God, for reasons unfathomable, refrains from blowing our dancing bear act to smithereens. Week after week Christ washes the disciples’ dirty feet, handles their very toes, and repeats. It’s all right — believe it or not — to be people. Who can believe it?”

    i can. and so can you.

    hallelujah. 🙂

    • Jorja says:

      Care-Uh, 😉
      glad to know you soul sister! so thrilled to hear such great stuff from you. gotta love annie dillard. happy to have a partner in crime along for the ride.

  6. Katy Watters says:

    Jorja, I love your candor. And ironically, I LOVE pinot noir, and find myself definitely fitting that description. I would love to grab a bottle of pinot noir with you and just talk…I bet we could talk for days. But then, we would need more than one bottle of pino noir 🙂


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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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