I don’t know for sure what the meaning of life is – life doesn’t come with built in guarantees, a guide book, or ways to predict what’s coming next. It’s a pop quiz all the time. And while there’s no way to anticipate the challenges, sometimes it’s also difficult to anticipate all of the good (unknown) things that could be on the horizon. Or just right in front of you – in the now.
If we were all able to constantly be aware of all the good things we really have in our lives — if we were able to see beauty in all of the ordinary things, and people, we take for granted — life would be a lot easier. Thankfully, there are days that manage to raise our awareness for us.
Several weekends ago I was lucky enough to be reminded — and in a way that sourced all my gratitude and love through an assortment of challenging, inspiring, hilarious, and raw moments.
Sometimes we just need a night with friends to really remember we’re alive.
A good friend of mine turned 40 a few months ago, and had made sure his birthday party was inked into my planner far, far in advance. It was not your average birthday party, or a huge production, but rather a really small dinner in the basement wine cellar – Treble – of Keswick, one of the most renowned vineyards in the area (which is saying something). It was perfection.
There was something about being in the cellar, separated from all other distractions, stresses and demands. It was also the company — 10 people with different realities, pasts, and contributions to the conversation — that took thoughts deeper, and also made them lighter. Laughter was ever-present –even through the sentiment and the sweet tears of toasts and tributes.
We spend so much time working – trying to meet deadlines and fit more into our packed schedules – stressing out about squeezing a workout in before or after our regularly scheduled workloads, and striving to be everything to everyone. The problem is, we don’t always take the time to appreciate the moment. (Or maybe you do… but I needed a refresher.)
We rarely take conscious moments to not to worry about how many emails we have waiting, when we’re going to fit in our next workout, and even (dare I say it…) how clean we are eating. There has to be a balance. 80/20 is reasonable, but 95/5 is not.
I really think that our personal sanity, and our ability to appreciate others, is in direct proportion to our ability to cut ourselves some slack every once in a while — to take a damn break from the grind to remember what it feels like to love and be loved — whatever that may mean.
This particular night it was so thick in the air that it was impossible to ignore. There was love — the love of great friends, of families formed, and of life, wholly. I needed it. I needed it all, and that includes the break from life structure and the complete and utterly worthwhile embrace of this rich and beautiful dinner:
I started with the sweet potato bisque – no doubt (and thankfully) made with the heaviest cream in town. Amazing.
I also got a few other shots of the amazing menu options from my plate neighbors, Mindy + Dar, since they were (unfortunately for them) within reach of my camera shot.
That being said, here is the quail that was offered as an appetizer, and was apparently awesome.
For the main course I chose a Butternut Squash Linguini (literal strands of butternut squash) with grilled eggplant, roasted almonds, fresh ricotta and pepperonata.
My friendly neighbors chose the braised beef option, over creamy risotto, which I’m still craving,
and the grilled salmon, which I think speaks for it’s own awesomeness.
And of course, there was dessert. A peanut butter chocolate ganache bar, and baked apples with vanilla bean ice cream (so classic).
So, the food was amazing. Really amazing. But it still paled in comparison to the weight of the evening, and the impact of appreciating moments solely existing to celebrate life. There is so much beauty in ordinary things, and the people who are unknowingly the salt of our lives. If I can dare make a guess, the meaning of life might just exist in those moments of awareness and gratitude — and in the love we have for the people that share those moments with us.
So, thank you to my beautiful and amazing friends that made that night possible, in whatever role, and to those who bring beauty into my life every day without the comfort and lure of a fully stocked wine cellar and an evening escape from all the noise.
Oh, and also to these fools that are soul brothers on a level none of us may fully understand, but still makes us laugh.