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The addition of sound-absorbing curtains in the dining room at Salty’s, a popular out-of-the-way waterfront restaurant near Federal Way, Washington, has been popular with both Salty’s guests and the staff.

The view of downtown Seattle from Salty's at Alki
The view of downtown Seattle from Salty’s at Alki

The curtains were put in place to deal with an obstacle. The obstacle: booking groups was not happening as much as they wanted because the restaurant offered no “special” space, no banquet facilities or dining area that afforded at least a little more privacy and less of the hullabaloo associated with the din of a bustling popular destination restaurant.“We chose the curtains rather than walls,” says General Manager Terianne Broyles, “to maximize our space and waterfront view when not sold as a private event.”

Very smart.

There are two great life lessons we can apply from the stroke of marketing (and pragmatic) genius described here.First, group or no group, if you live in the Puget Sound area (or greater Portland, Oregon area for that matter), go enjoy a reasonably-priced meal at any of Salty’s locations. The food, the views and the people are all top notch. Redondo is my favorite. And pictured to the right is the view from Salty’s Alki location (across Elliot Bay, directly west of downtown Seattle). I have been there as well, and the food and service are as good as the view.

Secondly, to mitigate the obstacle of too much “noise” and chaos in your own life, do what Salty’s has done: use the resources available to you to do what you can do to make the most of what you’ve got.

Specifically, find ways to cordon off time and space that is just for you. It might be a room at home, like a guest room, or even a little dual-use space that you refer to as your sanctuary, your chapel, your library, whatever. It might be a certain time of the day that you carve out and refer to as “mom time” (only recommended for people who are a mom), or whatever name you choose. It can be anywhere.

A shot of me and my sweetheart on a spring morning outside on the deck at Salty's on Alki. That is the Space Needle  behind us across the bay.
A shot of me and my sweetheart on a spring morning outside on the deck at Salty’s on Alki. That is the Space Needle behind us across the bay.

The point is to regularly take time to be quiet; to journal, to pray, to write, to meditate, to dream and to contemplate. Find your time and place to do that, even if it happens to be in a busy coffee shop, train station, or restaurant.

The headlines offer daily reminders that we live in a world permeated by chaos. Chaos surrounds us. That is true in a global sense, nationally, and locally. It is true for virtually everyone, everywhere.

That said, there is also the temptation to answer the call to resolve the problem of chaos and to bring “order” to our personal world by removing ourselves from it all. Trust me: that does not work. It doesn’t work because we tend to be invited to enter the chaos wherever we go.

“We meditate for various reasons. Peace of mind we all badly need. Therefore, when we meditate, either consciously or unconsciously we aim at peace of mind. Meditation give us peace of mind without a tranquilliser. And unlike a tranquilliser, the peace of mind that we get from meditation does not fade away. It lasts for good in some corner of the inmost recesses of our aspiring heart.”
Sri Chinmoy

 Whether in the city or in the relative quiet of the countryside, the constant chaos we all experience by being enticed to work, to achieve, to go and to do too much is a relentless temptation. So, the third alternative [an alternative to losing ground to the ongoing war against “chaos” and an alternative to physically escaping from it all] is to be in it but not “of it”.

Therein is another aspect of the brilliance of what Salty’s at Redondo has done by installing those curtains. By utilizing the existing space to create private dining by simply pulling a heavy, sound-absorbing curtain or two, they are able to give groups of people the enjoyable experience of being in Salty’s dining room without feeling like they are in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of a full restaurant.

If “exclusivity” can be casual and practical and void of pretense, this would be a good example of it. And also an excellent example of the principle I am promoting here. Yes, it is possible to be in the middle of a world filled with chaos, but not of it. It is possible to refuse to give in to it and to refuse to participate in it, all without taking flight from it.

By creating a couple simple barriers, Salty’s at Redondo has created a less distracting place for a group to enjoy their surroundings. As a result, they are prospering even more than before. You too can benefit from doing the same in your own way in your own life.

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