How to Achieve Grape-ness with Rocky Soil

The plight of the underdog has always been one that fascinates me. It’s the plot of countless movies in Hollywood, and regardless of cheesiness factor, the ending always gets me. The triumph. The moment where the underdog has realized their victory in life against insurmountable odds.

Cue standing on the steps of a courthouse celebrating a victory…

Cue two lovers looking deeply into each others eyes as they walk off down the street into the sunset…

Cue the family reunited with their kid.

Cue the sports team lifting their compatriot into the air after an amazing victory…

There are countless underdog scenarios, but the ones I’m most passionate about are the real life stories of people who come from a place of deficit. I don’t use the word deficit in a negative way, but think of it in terms of a race, and rather than being at the starting line with everyone else, these individuals have had to start more than 20 paces behind everyone else. How are they going to catch up?

Whether these underdogs are fighting against poverty, a broken home, physical or mental illness; there’s a race happening prior to the real race even being run. These are the underdogs that often go unheard, and frequently unseen as well.

In my life I have fought some of the more commonly seen scenarios of the underdog; poverty, lack of education, broken home. Yet I was privileged in many other ways; I received a private school education, I am white, and I was able to afford some post-high school education. These are all extra paces that have been given back to me so I can inch ever closer to the starting line.

Last night I was having a much needed talk with a dear friend of mine, and she and I were struggling to figure out why it’s hard to describe this exact scenario to non-underdogs. The feeling of being 20 paces behind, and unsure how to catch up to the others, or even feel like you’re being given a fair shot at the finish line. I feel like for underdogs, it’s a victory just to be well adjusted sometimes.

Success can be incredibly different from one underdog to the next, she and I are very different people and come from incredibly different backgrounds. She went to school to be a fashion designer, and now works in the service industry. I went to school to be a teacher and ended up in of all places, technical education. We share a love of food and drink. The bonds that tie.

She was west coast.

I was mid-west.

Yet we somehow bonded over cheese at a friend’s birthday party nearly 4 years ago next month. She’s someone who has this incredible wisdom to her, and I love talking to her just to hear her perspective on life. She brings joy to her life and her interactions with friends and never skimps on the word love.

Last night she brought a different perspective to 20 paces behind than any I had heard before. Rather than seeing it as a David and Goliath type of scenario, it’s a grapevine and soil one. I’d like to note that she has taken sommelier classes, and knows wine way better than me.

Bear with me.

We all know to grow something agriculturally, it’s dependent on a root system to access water, and leaves to access sun for photosynthesis, or at least I hope we do? In this case, grapes which are destined to be great wine need a mixture of rocky soil, rather than incredibly rich and fertilized soil. Grapes do better with less, than they do with more. At least if you want delicious, tasty wine….which, YES, obviously.

If you provide grapes too much water, they produce watery fruit, which isn’t good for wine. They may look great, but they won’t make great wine. The reason being is they haven’t had to work for their water source, apparently grape vines enjoy a good tussle with the dirt.

This was a revelation to me, I never knew that grapes required hardship to bear better fruit.

Underdogs are the grapes in rocky soil. They fight against rocks to reach their water source so they can grow beautiful fruit. All they need? A bit of sun to shine on them once in a while grow. Isn’t that true of all of us?

It’s hard not to be inspired by that message, and want to see the fruits of your hard won labor out there. Whether you’re 20 paces behind all the other grapes in the vineyard, and they look like they’re doing amazing things. You may produce less, but you’re going to produce something that others will want to see, and you’ll be proud of.

You will get there the way you need to, through hard work and determination, and you’ll have a whole bunch of scraggly other underdog vines helping you out and rooting for you (get what I did there?).

Stay tuned, as Mindy will be on the podcast coming up. She’ll be talking about living with chronic illness while still needing to make a living.

I'm just a nerd trying to figure it out. Stay tuned for my wacky adventures in social experiments!

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