We are defined by others and ourselves out of convenience, the love of categorizing and maybe just out because it makes relationships easier. For years I made wine so I was a winemaker and for many, that was not only what I did but who I was. Then I became a CEO and it took a long time for people to fully understand that, yes, I was a winemaker but now a winemaker that ran a company. Media would get confused or find it quaint that I was now a CEO, like I couldn’t be that if I was a previously defined as a winemaker–but I was both–and much more.
A year and a half ago I became a consultant to the BC beverage industries from ciders to spirits, beer and yes, wine. I am not the same person I was when I made wine or ran a company but I am still as complex a person as I was back then. Complexity is what we like to shorthand for others. We strip away their many loves, layers, hangups, hobbies, desires and fears and replace them with words like “winemaker” and “CEO” or “divorced”, “single”, “real estate agent”, “retired”, “accountant”, “widow”, “father” (insert any overly simplistic term here). Our world wants to make every one and every thing simplified, to be defined by their job or their status, but I yearn for more complexity, not less.
In June I will explore a love I’ve had for many years, the American Civil War. I can hear you asking “Seriously? How can that be?” (spoiler alert: humans are complex). I’ll wander through history from Arlington to Bull Run, across the Shenandoah Valley campaign to Charlottesville and Lexington. Around Richmond to the siege of Petersburg and the Seven Days battles, then up to Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and the Wilderness. North again to Ball’s Bluff, Harper’s Ferry and Antietam and finish with a five-day civil war course at Gettysburg college.
A dream vacation for me that will also include plenty of art, photography, food, drink and poetry because how can I leave behind that which is a part of me?
My days of defining myself are over. It has always been a job for those around me anyway so carry on. I’m just not going to make it so easy for you from here on out.