Friday, July 3, 2009

Down among the wines and spirits

This morning, for the first time in two months, I was treated to a lovely long uninterrupted meditation period; it was pure heaven to sink into the quiet depths of being. As I was coming out I thought of several images that might represent the blissful peace of that time, but then another tune from that new Elvis Costello bluegrass album popped into my head: "Down among the wines and spirits."

It's a song about a man who has broken up with the woman in his life and is drowning his sorrows in liquor, so at first I didn't think anything of it. But then I realized that, in a way, meditation is like paying a visit to your personal wine cellar. So I decided to explore the ramifications of that thought: what would it tell me about this process? How is meditation like a visit to a wine cellar?

Well, it does begin with a decision: you need a taste of spirit, so you make a choice to go down to a place where you have found spirits in the past. And it does feel like you're going to a cool dark place deep within. You don't seem to live there, or even go there very often, so things are pretty dusty, with a few cobwebs to be brushed away.

What you find there is rich and deep and dark and clear and intoxicating. But you don't usually get the full benefit of it while you're down there; you bring it up with you into the light. It's meant to be shared with friends, to be swirled around a bit, sniffed and savored. Drinking it in can make you giddy and silly; even a bit childish -- and we all know it can be addictive. And if you sip at it carefully, the buzz you get can last quite a while!

I'm not much of a wine drinker, I have to confess -- red wine gives me headaches, and I can only drink about half a glass of white wine before I get really sleepy. And I don't have a wine cellar; I photographed this one in a castle in Verrazzano, Italy. But my visit to my own personal inner wine cellar this morning was... well, just delicious. And, like Elvis Costello, I guess I could say --

Suddenly he's calling out more, more, more
Speaks of invisible things he hardly credits
I'm twice the foolish man I was before
Down among the wines and spirits....

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