Lesson from a Grapevine

On Contentment in the Present Place

Bonita Jewel, MFA


Grapevine in backyard during winter
Grapevine in my backyard

How many books do you read at a time?

I mean, you can only read one book at a time, literally — in that singular moment you are currently in. And in this singular moment, you are reading this. (Thanks for taking the time. I appreciate it.)

But back to books … do you have several books that you are in the middle of?

If you look at my Goodreads profile, you’ll see that I have a couple dozen books on my “currently reading” shelf. I’m not actively reading all of them right now

But one genre I try to always be actively reading is a book on writing or creativity or art of some kind.

I’m currently reading Letters from the Mountain by Ben Palpant.

Rereading it, actually. (It’s a good book.)

In what I read this morning, Palpant was talking about the struggle for contentment in the life of artists and creatives. That constant tension of seeing where we want to be, and ambitiously pursuing those goals, while simultaneously being content in where we are now.

This truth doesn’t only apply to the creative life — playing piano or violin, painting or storytelling. It can hold true in parenting and other relationships. That tension can be felt in one’s financial goals or resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle.

It’s easy for me to look at everything I want to do and be, to think about everything I think I should have accomplished by now.

But then I glance at the signs of life making their way into spring outside. Like this grapevine, which stood in my backyard all winter looking as dry and as dead as could be. And then suddenly there are these tiny leaves.

Grapevine with tiny leaves in spring

And the grapevine is content with the leaves, with the way they look right now, trusts that the leaves will grow and at some point, when its time is full, there will be tiny florets that transform into tiny orbs.

Then the orbs will take in some unique blend of sun and soil and liquid and minerals and slowly, slowly, ever so slowly transform into grapes.

The grapevine isn’t stressing about all these things — picturing where it wants to be and wondering why all that hasn’t happened by now.

No, that will come.

Its job is to absorb the sun, the minerals from the soil and liquid.

Its job is to bask in the sunlight and simply let leaves unfurl.

Grapevine in later spring with more leaves
My grapevine in later spring

May contentment and joy meet you in this season where you are.

~ Bonita Jewel