We forget that life is precious when trials and responsibilities wear us down. But there is a state of mind that makes us face the fact without force or obligation. In fact, it comes to us with such stealth that we don’t realize it until much later.
Years ago I traveled to Italy with my wife to visit friends, and I tasted a Suave wine in an outdoor restaurant in Bergamo. It was the most wonderful white wine I’d ever had. When I returned home to Minnesota, the taste was so memorable that I had to find a case of it. After lots of searching I was able to find a half case, which a local wine seller said he’s hold for me if I’d come by soon.
I bought the bottles. I took them home, opened one and a poured a glass. I now see myself holding the wine in my mouth after expecting it to overcome me, just like it did before. It tasted plain. Not bad, but plain. It was a glass of white wine that tasted like lots of others I’d had before.
I lay in bed that night thinking about it and realized what was wrong. There was no sunny terrace, dotted with tables. There was no old city of Bergamo below the hilltop. I tasted the wine on a holiday when I was carefree in the company of friends. That magic was what made the Suave taste so good.
I thought of this when I was reading “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens a couple of days ago. The named character tells how he fell in love with a girl. They were only children when they shared a home for two weeks on the English seaside. Years later, David Copperfield wrote of it:
“It seems to me, at this hour, that I have never seen such sunlight as on those bright April afternoons; that I have never beheld such sky, such water, such glorified ships sailing away into the golden air.”