Grace Under Pressure

 Once heard Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live being interviewed.  Questioned about what made for the best guest hosts he responded “athletes” without missing a beat.  He said that people like Michael Jordan were used to being in front of a demanding audience and performing under pressure.

  He didn’t mention the tremendous work ethic that great athletes must also have.  Or the ability to take mistakes in stride or worse – how to deal with “the agony of defeat”.

  Youngest daughter played D1 soccer for four seasons.  Team made it to the Big 10 championships her last season.  Lost by one point to the eventual #1.  They worked out from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM and several hours late in the PM six days a week.  And that was the off season.  Seniors all graduated with honors.

  She’s now in Aspen working at an exclusive club.  Waitress/sommelier.  Her first time in Colorado was during the summer before she was born.  I remember being concerned for her prenatal wellbeing when we all hiked above the upper lift at Aspen Highlands.  +12,000 ft.  I worried that the thin air might somehow attenuate her potential to, well, smile.

  Needn’t have worried.  On her Facebook wall her brother’s post read: “Why is it that in every picture you look like you are having more fun than everyone else in the room?”  In Sydney, Australia she and a friend won the grand prize at a karaoke contest singing “Born in the USA” along with the Boss.  Who else could get away with something like that?  In June of 2008?  Her name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “source of joy” so maybe that’s it.

  Lorne Michaels’ thoughts came to mind when we heard that senior staff at the club were favorably impressed with her performance.  Maneuvering trays and bottles through a room crowded with demanding folks has to be easier than doing the same with a ball through a bunch of Amazons intent upon inflicting bodily harm.

  These months have been a great opportunity for her to sift through her thoughts of the year she spent working at a fine winery in New Zealand.  She’s just now begun evaluating graduate programs in viticulture and oenology.  I was quite taken by her response to my question of what drew her interest thereto.

  She said “Dad, you can’t cheat or lie.  You can only do the best you can do with the soil and the grapes.  The fact that a crucial ingredient, the weather, is completely beyond the vintner’s control only makes the work more interesting”.

  Her first comment evoked a vision of the current scoundrels of Wall Street.  I thought about how all of the ugly headlines must reverberate across the cerebrations of those with career choices not yet hardwired in.

  Then it dawned on me that she was talking about farming and how, in any of its permutations, agriculture is the archetype for an honest living.  For exactly the reasons she mentioned. 

  A few years ago some urbanite asked Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jorie Graham why she lived in Iowa:

  “Iowans respect work.  When one comes to live and work here, from whatever corner of the globe, one realizes after a while that one is working amidst people who work hard, who work with their hands, who stand between land and sky, corn prices and weather, with determination and faith and courage and an uncluttered understanding of the value of work.  When you sit down to work in their midst – you have a deep sense of their being at work in your midst.  Whether it’s the farmland that surrounds us, or the small businesses struggling around us, writers in Iowa are encircled – and instructed – by all kinds of other real work being done… One can feel the rightness of a well-planted thing, the incredible hard work it takes to make it come to fruition, the miracles and the sweat and the patience and the technique – both literal and imaginary – are in fact poems or stories that carry in their marrow the values and the beliefs of that community…” 

  Yup, can take the girl out of Iowa, but can’t take Iowa out of the girl.


The grapes of my body can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing
“I cannot bear any more anguish, and more cruelty”
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears: “I am not working in ignorance
You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse,
But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion you reach Perfection
You will never be done praising my name.”


Persian mystic Jelaluddin Rumi  1207-1273

One Response to “Grace Under Pressure”

  1. andrew Says:

    I cant wait to have a family vineyard to raid.

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