(This essay also appears on Huffington Post)
“It’s not happiness that makes you grateful,” goes one of my favorite recent quotes (thanks, Joann Lee;) “it’s being grateful that makes you happy.”
Here’s to gratitude.
For one thing, it has been raining in San Francisco. That strange wet stuff that falls occasionally from the sky – but we haven’t seen in a very long time. A planned Commonwealth Club Waterfront Walk tour, which I had earlier volunteered to help host, was advertised “Rain or Shine;” and as it happened there was both. The rain dampened all streets but no spirits, and the beauty of the waterfront literally shone.
There is something mystic about a waterfront on a dark day: an ethereal quiet hanging just below the clouds, the call of a gull who could be from another world, the scent of newness.
The waterfront in sunshine is brilliant and exciting; in rain it invites your imagination – and appreciation.
As with waterfronts everywhere, San Francisco’s is steeped in history: sailors and conquerors, longshoremen and adventurers. There is public art, and private beauty. Waterfront Walk guide extraordinaire Rick Evans covers a remarkable range of them in two hours:
The rise and – literal – fall of Rincon Hill, once one of San Francisco’s famous seven, which overlooked the Bay until the city unwisely bulldozed a street through it in the 19th century and the sandy hill collapsed upon itself. (Earthquake and fire finished the job.) Today Rincon Hill is rising again, as gleaming steel towers. The buildings that survived earthquake and fire are other centerpieces of the walk, plus the monumental artwork on the waterfront that was a trade-off for Gap tycoon Don Fisher’s corporate headquarters building when it went up – insurance of unobstructed, breathtaking views.
Some of the beauty of many waterfronts, physical and informational, is manmade, as is true of this piece of San Francisco Bay. But every waterfront has its story, and its soul.
Rain or shine. A cause for exquisite gratitude.