Making the people count requires being a good listener

Every now and then I have an epiphany, not a great big aha! epiphany, just a simple realization of a truism.  Like this Wednesday, I realized how important other people are to expanding our worlds, to our well being, and to learning who we are . . .and how interesting and sometimes even how special they are.  Learning this requires listening, and sometimes I am not a very good listener, having my own anecdotes to tell.

This week I was again lucky enough to be invited to enjoy Ileana’s stone fireplace pizza and meet some new people.  I have mentioned Ileana before. She seems to glide through the busiest life with less effort than anyone I know.  It helps to have a supportive and similar partner that is her husband.

Besides my longtime friend, Jerry, there were two new people; two women whom I had never met.  Julia is an artist, and Angela has a bakery and small restaurant in Pavas, the Backland Café, opposite the Virgen de Loreto’s Church, 75 meters West of the American Embassy.

She started it after many people complimented her on her homemade sourdough bread and said, “You should open a bakery.”   She came to Costa Rica years ago with her husband and children and lived in the southern, rural part of the country.  I learned this when I was telling a story about a scorpion with my usual voiced fear of the creatures, and she said she was quite used to scorpions and snakes on her property.  She is a better woman than I am.

Julie is Costa Rican and an artist, who experiments with many materials and believes that it is the imperfections that make a work of art interesting.  She has two dimples in her cheeks that keep appearing when she talks and she seems about to smile or say something mischievous all the time.

Both Angela and Julie are widows who have made very successful independent lives for themselves.  I think they represent many women I have never met in Costa Rica and elsewhere.

My friend Sandy was telling me of the travel plans she and her husband had been discussing. They are thinking of, for instance, flying to Seattle, Washington, renting a car and driving down to practically the Mexican border, using as their destinations their member of their family and their friends, of which they have many.  So instead of place destinations, it will be people who determine their stops.

And my son, who is visiting, just came back from a couple of days on the west coast.  He took pictures of some of the places and the beaches, but he mainly talked about the people he met, like the frequent visitor who told him about the less expensive hotel next door to where he was staying, but using the same amenities, or the ebullient restaurant owner who greeted him as he read the menu outside, and, of course, about some of the most beautiful women he has ever seen. “It’s the people who make a place,” he said.

It doesn’t take much of an epiphany to recognize such a simple truth, just now and then thinking about what has changed your life, and more often it will not be some place or something,  but someone who has made a difference in your life.

Of course, you must put yourself in a place where you will meet or interact with people to appreciate their worth.  Perhaps that is why someone like myself who enjoys her privacy and solitude so much finds it a revelation to discover what everyone else knows and takes for granted.  I think Barbra Streisand had s song about it.  Of course, she would.

This entry was posted in Friday Column. Bookmark the permalink.