A glorious day in Edmonds | Moment's Notice

By Maria A. Montalvo | Jan 18, 2019

This past weekend, Edmonds was gifted with beautiful weather – sunny and almost 60 degrees. Glorious meteorological conditions, really.

The streets of Edmonds, from the Bowl to Highway 99, were teaming with dog walkers, shoppers, runners and a range of folks finding an excuse to be outside.

The Olympic Mountains, towering over the thin strip of the Sound, glistened in the sunlight, and must have looked how John Muir saw them when he wrote, “How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains.”

Watching throngs of people about, I was reminded of one of my first experiences with a Broadway musical: “Oklahoma.” Sitting next to my mother, both of us in our fancy dresses, I was enraptured by every song, and enjoying the theater of it all. I especially loved, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.”

“Oh, what a beautiful mornin'
Oh, what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way.”

When days like this past weekend come along, we can feel like everything is going our way. The worries melt away.

We all smile at each other on the sidewalk, and most everyone seems to express an extra gesture of generosity or demonstration of goodwill (holding the door open longer than usual, giving up a place in line, and visiting a little longer with the acquaintance or friend you meet on the street).

Is it possible to normalize the feelings of kindness and compassion that come out on a sunny day?

The norm of reciprocity, a concept in psychology shown to be prevalent in human behavior, says that people naturally want to act more kindly to someone who has done something good for them. Similarly, if you are nice to someone or share a story or experience, they are likely to do the same.

We survived – and thus evolved – through cooperation and compassion, or reciprocal altruism, as the scientists call it, and that cooperative behavior helps us further our goals today, since we can do more together than we can alone.

We not only want to return a perceived behavior but reward it.

Unfortunately, big business has figured out how to exploit this norm of human behavior by manipulating us with free gifts or trial offers. And worse yet, the norm of reciprocity can also lead to wishing negative things on people who you feel have wronged you.

But let us dream a little and keep it positive. The reciprocal benevolence taking place all over town during this glorious, sun-drenched weekend would be wonderful every day.

Pro-social behavior nurtures positive relationships and can bring us closer together, something we sorely need.

Not even referring here to politics, but in the midst of the weekend’s sunshine and community, a gray-bearded homeless man was hoping for some spare change and a young man who supports his extended family was struggling to find a job.

That black and white, yin and yang, up and down are always there. That’s what brings the choice for how we react.

We are predisposed to act, yes, seeing every action as requiring an equal reaction, but how about we choose to reciprocate with kindness?

As the much earlier philosopher, Sophocles, so simply put it, “To be doing good deeds is man's most glorious task,” regardless of the weather.

 

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