Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Ramblings

I landed my first job selling wine almost 15 years ago, based largely on the fact that I knew more about wine than my employer. He liked to tell people that he had 700 bottles of wine at home. Of course, he also confidently told people that “merlot is basically a blend.”

Sometimes you do what you have to do for a paycheck.

Anyway, one of my customers at that little wine shop turned into a friend and became my first wine mentor. He was exceedingly generous with his knowledge and – more importantly – his respectable stash of wines he’d been collecting since the late ‘70s. He taught me that any fool can buy good, expensive wine, but the real score is to find great, inexpensive wine.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of mentors lately, probably because I’m in need of one (or two) at the moment. Having people to learn from, to look up to and to gather good advice from is invaluable in life - whether you’re learning about wine or deciding (somewhat belatedly) what to do with your life.

Prior to my gig at the wine shop, I spent quite a few years working for a great guy who taught me more about life than he probably realizes. I was 19 or so when he hired me and I was 25 or so when we parted ways – a very significant span of years. He taught me a great deal – directly and indirectly. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that no matter what life throws at you – it’ll be alright.

I can’t talk about the important people in my life without mentioning my parents, both of whom I’ve talked about here previously. But since it’s Father’s Day, I’m going to talk about my dad.

During my misspent youth, I’m sure my dad must have been tempted to lay the blame on my mom’s side of the family. He must have wondered if I listened to a word he said.

Well, I was listening…and ignoring his counsel as quickly as it was offered. I was young and thought I had all the answers. Much to his credit, however, he never gave up on me.

And thus my dad taught me about kindness and patience. While I’ll never live up to his standards on either, he gave me a goal to shoot for.

He also taught me to look for the answers to life’s questions in the pages of books – whether you need to fix the toilet or you need to find some meaning in your existence. I curse him (with love) every time I have to pack up my book collection for a move.

It would take too long to list all the things I learned or inherited from him, but among them are a passion for growing things, a thirst for knowledge, a fixation with learning to play a musical instrument, a love of foreign languages and a really open mind when it comes to food (bet he never would have guessed that when I was 15).

You can’t choose your parents, but you certainly can be thankful for the ones you have.

Happy Father’s Day, dad.

Here’s to you.

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