Some realizations take a while to ferment in your mind.

There’s a scene in Sideways where one character says to another, “What was the bottle that got you into wine? What did it for you?”

I’ve been searching for that bottle. Searching for the glass that can change my life. The glass that can open my eyes to a new way of seeing the world, and make me exclaim, “My God, come quickly—I’m seeing stars.”

Because our eyes are affected by our smell and taste more than we realize. A brief taste of the right chocolate and you’ll never be the same person again. Whole realms of possibility open up and you see clearly what it means for the world to be better and for yourself to be better and then you can’t rest until you fully integrate that vision into your life.

It was at Samovar where I drank the cup of tea that changed my life.

“Have you ever had this tea before?”

The waiter wants to know my level of experience. I say that I’ve never had it.

He quietly and politely explains the process for steeping it. Not really all that difficult—the life changing things shouldn’t be too complicated after all. But a few unusual steps in the brewing process.

I do several infusions, and each one is like the movement of a symphony, or an act of a Shakespeare play. By the end, I am different. I’ve seen the Truth. I’ve seen, “Ah, this is what tea can be.”

This is what life can be. A life of beauty, and richness, and the inexpressible sensation of vegetation, and seaweed, and sushi, and earth. That vision is infused in me and I am infused in it.

Back to fermentation.

Now I’m in Sonoma. Searching, searching for that glass of wine that will open my eyes.

And as I wake up, with the morning sun getting slightly brighter every second, a realization dawns on me. The world looks different than it did yesterday. I can still taste the fifteen different wines I tried yesterday, each one distinct in my memory. There was no single moment of this experience that made a change in me. It needed to ferment. It needed a chorus of wines, dancing, bacchanal style in my perception to make me see.

Now, when I look at a bottle of wine my heart jumps and I think, “There is a symbol of what life can be.”

“Do you think music has the power to change people? Like you listen to a piece and go through some major change inside?”

Oshima nodded. “Sure, that can happen. We have an experience—like a chemical reaction—that transforms something inside us. When we examine ourselves later on, we discover that all the standards we’ve lived by have shot up another notch and the world’s opened up in unexpected ways. Yes, I’ve had that experience. Not often, but it has happened. It’s like falling in love.”

–Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

About Kevin McGillivray

Kevin McGillivray is a teacher and web developer from Wisconsin. He writes about creativity, mindfulness, code, and tea. He is the co-founder of Sandcastle, a tiny studio.

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