A Welcoming Feeling

 

I had lunch with a dear friend today. She mentioned that she was walking down the street in Alameda the other day and a person she did not know smiled and said “Hello.” She finds the warmth of Alameda to be a pleasure and began to reiterate many of the small meaningful experiences she finds in this city.

I told her that I had that same experience when I began to visit San Francisco many years ago. I was visiting from Detroit, and I noticed that people looked me in the eye as I walked in the city, and often they smiled and greeted me. I decided that the people who lived in San Francisco were happy to be there and that was reflected in their interactions with strangers. It was welcoming. 

I had the same experience when I visited Portland, Maine. When I walked into a store, large or small, the workers smiled and asked how they could be helpful to me. I was not used to so warm and personal an interaction with employees in department stores; and I liked it. I also was aware of smiles and greeting on the streets. I decided that, like San Francisco, the people were happy to be in Portland. 

When I shared this observation with others, I discovered I was not alone. Many people saw a similarity between Portland and San Francisco: the attitude of the residents, similarly diverse populations, a variety of languages spoken, wonderful restaurants and many cultural offerings. 

I mention this with the awareness that Alameda offers these characteristics, too. Residents like their city. There is the joke that many people refuse to cross a bridge to go anywhere. We have diversity, varied languages, good restaurants and places to go for art and music. 

I value the opportunity to notice what is meaningful and valuable in our lives rather than to be critical. We can pay attention to what is, rather than what is not. 

I advocate change and growth, but, too often, we don’t focus on what is in the moment. To know there are caring, interactive people in Alameda; to acknowledge them can create a nice experience. 

I was walking into the gym this morning and I held the door for the person who was walking in behind me. He said, “Thanks for doing that.” It was a small gesture, but both of us felt better as a result. 

I thank my friend for bringing up this topic. We can, if we choose, take the time to dwell on things that create pleasure in our lives rather than those that irritate us. 

Give it a try.