Southern Grown Creole Gratitude
I recently visited New Orleans and felt compelled to share my experience there. Now before you read on I want to warn you, there are NO stories of debauchery or beads, sorry. I went to have fun, who doesn’t expect fun in NOLA, and left feeling marvelous about NOLA’s future.
My husband and I visited NOLA in 1990, pre-Katrina, and had a great time. On we were looking forward to returning to one of our favorite places. We had a little trepidation not knowing what to expect, how much had hurricane Katrina changed the city. I had been to the city for a brief visit right after Katrina for a conference and the schedule did not give us time to explore the city. So this was really the first time I was able to experience the city since our visit in 1990. Wow, has New Orleans not only survived, it is thriving.
This is truly one of the most unusual places in the United States and is the birthplace of Jazz, Cajun and Creole cuisine. The history of this city is fascinating, the food is spicy and delicious, the music is plentiful and good, and as one local put it, most of our street performers would be headline acts in other parts of the country, I couldn’t agree more. The architecture is mesmerizing, each time we walked down a different street we saw these distinct old structures with intriguing features. In many of our towns we have become numb to the structures that surround us in our cookie-cutter world, not in New Orleans, the exciting variety of food, music, and even the architecture keeps your senses heightened.
The real gift of New Orleans, however, are the people. I was deeply moved by the response of the people of NOLA during our recent visit. At least once, but generally more, each and every day while there, we were thanked by the residents for coming to the city. These messages of gratitude were not just coming from the business owners, but also; the neighbors to our B&B, the locals we shared a table with at a crowded Jazz bar, the couple at the Karaoke bar on Bourbon Street, the barista at the coffee shop, the woman greeting us at the WWII museum, almost every server at every restaurant, the list goes on and on. I was very touched by the sincere thankfulness of the people of NOLA. Many told us their friends and neighbors have jobs because more people are visiting again. Each and every time we were thanked for being here, without exception they said please come back and visit our city. I almost wanted to ask if they had all been given a training video it almost seemed rehearsed, but I knew better. They were sincere, not coached, and they were exhibiting their magnificent Cajun/Creole fun-loving hospitality.
I have been blessed to experience many wonderful cultural differences in our beautiful country. In Hawaii they talk about the Aloha spirit, and the best way I can describe it is a feeling of love and respect toward all. In the Native American culture respect and family are both very important. My word for describing New Orleans would be gratitude. And in all the places I have visited I have not experience the main theme of their culture with the dependability, consistency or regularity we experienced in NOLA. I just cannot say enough about our overwhelming feeling of being welcomed, appreciated and encouraged to come back.
What a resilient and grateful culture. It is exactly what I needed to see and experience at this point in my life. I want to practice the wonderful example the people of NOLA set for me, unabashed, honest expression of gratitude. We can choose to see all the things wrong around us and focus on that or alternatively, we can see all that is right around us and be grateful. I believe the only power we possess in this world is our choices, we can empower ourselves through our choices or we can disempower ourselves and others. New Orleans has chosen to empower themselves in a big way. Laissez les bond temps rouler aka let the good times roll.
We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. – Kahlil Gibran