If you have ever watched Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen then you know what the photo above is. Two finalists waiting to find out who ultimately won the challenge. They are both asked to put their hand on the knob of the door in front of them and try to open it. Only one will open. Usually there are cuts to recap each one’s journey to that point, both highs and lows. Moments of triumph and moments of weakness or stress flash before the viewers eyes set to emotionally stirring music. Presumably they are reflecting over their journey as they wait patiently with their hand on the handle of their respective doors.
That is me, right now, with my hand on the handle. In 27 days I find out if my Research Paper was successful for my Master of Wine. Ten long years I have been working towards that day and now that it is nearly upon me, I’m not really sure how to feel. I’m nervous but excited. I’m relaxing in some ways but strung tight in others. I’m looking forward to the future but feeling equally concerned that it is premature even though I feel very confident in what I turned in. While it is not a competition, it is a journey that few complete and in the end it is a competition with yourself to become your best.
While it is not a competition, it is a journey that few complete and in the end it is a competition with yourself to become your best.
The paper itself was a beast to write. Many of my loyal readers may have noticed that my blogging and other writings went dark for a long time early this year. This was entirely due to my focus on writing the multitudes of revisions of what ended up being a very detailed study. The details can not be shared yet however, I believe it stands to move winemaking forward as a whole while maintaining our strong ties to tradition. I look forward to seeing the global reaction to the paper, the results of which are relevant to any winery producing fine wine around the globe. By the time it was completely finished, I had gone through 14 drafts of the Research Paper Proposal (RPP) and over 20 drafts of the paper itself between major and minor revisions. I’m quite proud of the work I put into it and I feel confident that it is solid. However, my mind keeps slipping back to the times I felt confident about my MW exam results and I didn’t get good news. I feel almost conditioned to expect the worst but at the same time I dare hope for the best.
As for my highs and lows, I came into the program as most students do, riding high on the mere inclusion into the storied echelons of MW students. I listened to MWs say it takes on average 5 years to get through everything, thinking to myself that I was going to work diligently to make sure I passed everything on the first try. When the first year assessment results were announced, I turned my sights onto the exam itself and studied with a fervor. It became my life and by the time I sat I felt confident that, at least for theory, I had mastered everything that was needed to pass. Ultimately I did not. I ended up in a gut wrenching mourning in the middle of Asti’s Block 1 Cabernet Sauvignon a few weeks before harvest, leaning on those old vines for support and grounding. That first fail was the first of many which took me to the very edge of my determination, cut my self confidence to the bone, and tore down all my pre-conceptions of what it meant to be a good student. Most of these trials and tribulations were chronicled on this blog under the category of Master of Wine Studies. After 8 years of blogging, this will hopefully be my last post under that heading.
The program is a blacksmith’s forge and hammer; heating and striking, striking and heating until all that is left of the person that came in is a confident, strong, example of a wine professional.
As I look towards the future, I have to be optimistic. I know I will become an MW. Even if it is not in a few weeks, it will happen. The program is a blacksmith’s forge and hammer; heating and striking, striking and heating until all that is left of the person that came in is a confident, strong, example of a wine professional. It hurts. It is painful. Nevertheless it has been worth it. I can look back and be proud that I have made it this far through the forger’s flame. I know the depths of my determination and I know that I am the only one who can hold myself back from accomplishing anything. I know if I don’t get good news, I will return to working just as hard to make sure that next time I get there. But I will get there.
My hand is on the handle and I’m praying the door will open for me this time.