In my 40s meaning shifted again and centered around whether I was being heard. A growing helplessness haunted me and was echoed by what I saw as a growing disregard for the valley’s natural resources, an oversupply of mono-agriculture businesses, the growing plight of working people and a deliberate deafness and active opposition to any voice that might dare to provide another perspective.
Now in my 50s meaning seems to have shifted again, and it seems to me for the better. No longer does my purpose seem tightly linked to something from the outside — being good, accepted, respected, appreciated or heard. Instead, I now see meaning being merged with my own ability to listen deeply — to hear and see what is going on, both inside and outside. This change is altering how I interact with the world as well as how I view the valley and even myself.
When I listen and observe closely I often come away with a host of questions, a curiosity coupled with an unfamiliar sense of peace. In this experience, the Napa Valley has taken on another role in my life. I no longer want much from this beautiful spot on the planet, unless you count my pleasure at documenting through photos and words what I am witnessing.
Or, as Kahlil Gibran wrote in one stanza of his wonderful poem, “On Love”:
But if in your fear you would seek only / love’s peace and love’s pleasure, / Then it is better for you that you cover / your nakedness and pass out of love’s / threshing-floor, / Into the seasonless / world where you / shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, / and weep, but not all of your tears.