Last month, uber-hard-rock band RUSH participated in what has become a semi-regular event for them: a charity auction on eBay called “Grapes Under Pressure” (a pun on one of RUSH’s album titles) to benefit Grapes For Humanity Canada (RUSH front man Geddy Lee is on the board of directors). I know, I can’t get past the hard/prog rock / wine thing the last few days, right?
Anyway, according to Geddy Lee, the most recent auction raised over $50K (not sure if that’s Canadian or U.S. dollars…):
I would like to take a moment to thank all those fans and friends who participated in the GRAPES UNDER PRESSURE eBay auction to benefit GRAPES FOR HUMANITY CANADA. With your help we managed to raise over $50,000 dollars! When combined with monies raised in our other G.U.P. events we will be able to significantly improve the lives of disadvantaged and injured people around the globe and more immediately will aid THE HALO TRUST in establishing a pilot project in Savannakhet Province, Laos, to address the urgent problem of casualties caused by cluster bombs. Alex, Neil, myself and the entire G.U.P. Team, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Geddy’s wine-related endeavors have been covered on these virtual pages before, but this recent news got me thinking about how and why the world’s greatest beverage can – and often does – serve as a catalyst to bring out the best in us (well, there’s that, but it also got me listening to Distant Early Warning, like, a dozen times)…
Wine – As A Food – Is Both Civilized And Primal
Food occupies a special place in our lives, being at once both an essential source of life energy and existing as a means of pure pleasure. Few things are really like that (no, your iPhone is not like that so don’t even try it) – being both primal/essential and civilized/luxurious simultaneously. I think having wine occupy such a special place in our lives means that it can help make even a mundane situation – meeting others, having a meal, stuff we do every day and take for granted hundreds of times a month – seem special. And when a moment seems special, we are more receptive to what that moment can offer us.
Wine – As Social Lubricant – Makes Best Friends
It’s just hard to dislike people – and humanity in general – when the booze is flowing. I like to make a joke about Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, primarily to Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc producers, which means that I end up laughing and they end up looking at me like I’m a doofus: NV SB might be some of the most overblown SB made on planet earth, but if on a hot day in wine country you greet me with a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc at your door, you might just make me your best friend (at least for a few dozen minutes). Aside from explaining how so much NV SB gets sold at tasting room doors, I think this example points out something fundamental about wine: the right wine at the right time makes us feel good, and much like music the context of how we enjoy it can add so much value to a moment that it becomes part of the soundtrack of our lives. We remember those moments – and we remember them more fondly, and resonate with them more deeply, because wine was involved. Certainly the subtopics of wine geekism (biodynamics, anyone?) can be (extremely) polarizing, but wine itself is rarely so polarizing. As in “Like wine? Of course I like wine! You have some? AWESOME!”
Wine – As Barrier-Destroyer – Sets Our Receptivity Receptors Into Overdrive
Sure, the alcohol helps – but it can’t artificially add feelings that weren’t under the surface of our consciousness to begin with. As social animals, wine greases the skids and lets us open up and become more receptive to others – and, probably, to their needs as human beings as well. There’s also the good old Catholic-grade-school-level guilt of enjoying a bit of hedonism and then thinking about the plights of those in less-fortunate situations than ourselves, but I don’t think that’s playing a major role in getting people to help others and rallying around wine as the catalyst.
Can We Make The World Better One Glass At A Time?
So there’s my hare-brained thinking: Wine puts us in the right mood, and in the right frame of mind, which when combined with the right circumstances raises are awareness, which could raise our compassion. Net/net, good for us, and good for the world. Buddhists are often quoted as saying that our intention shapes reality, and that the only good that can be done can only really be done one person at a time, starting with their receptivity and intention. So… maybe we can really make the world a better place with each moment, which includes each glass that we drink…
I know it sounds new-agey and lame to us jaded Americans, but I for one am game to give it try…