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Here’s to finding gratitude all around us


Since the second COVID-19 lockdown started Nov. 16, traffic on the street has been noticeably lighter in certain areas of Las Cruces, particularly at certain times of the day.

This has given me a little more time and visibility to observe things while driving and at stoplights.

I’ve seen increasing, and seemingly equal, numbers of the following:

  • people smoking cigarettes in their cars
  • people jogging
  • people on the street dancing and singing (or maybe yelling) at the tops of their lungs

At Thanksgiving, we’re supposed to be grateful, but during 2020, it’s been difficult with all the troubling things that keep rolling our way. I could moan on about all the bad stuff from 2020, but you already know all of that.

So, I figured I would challenge myself to find ways to be grateful for these street scenes.

  • People jogging – Having never enjoyed running for running’s sake, it is tempting for me to be snarky: “Nice way to torture yourself, bub.” Or I could respond indignantly: “Must be nice to be out running around, bub. Some of us have work to do!” However, there are lots of reasons to be grateful about people jogging. We can be grateful to live in an area where, in late November, the weather is nice enough we can go jogging in shorts and a T-shirt. The joggers I’ve seen have been at widely varying levels of shapes, sizes and ages. We can be grateful people in Las Cruces are active and care about their health. We can be grateful for people with useful, beneficial hobbies. No matter how you feel about jogging, it’s way better than doing drugs or carjacking or vandalizing homes and businesses. I was also grateful the joggers all were running safely, staying out of the roads and keeping away from traffic.
  • Smoking cigarettes in cars – This one’s trickier to identify gratitude. How about this: Those high taxes on tobacco help fund our roads, our schools and our public parks. The increased health problems of smokers generate more work for our doctors and treatment facilities, which benefit the local economy. I’m grateful they are keeping their cigarette smoke to their cars, instead of blowing it in my face. Not sure how to feel about the guy who was smoking while also having an oxygen tube in his nose. However, the thing to be most grateful for, I suppose, is how relatively few smokers there are these days. The fact I’ve seen as many street dancers as car smokers is telling. All of us have lost friends and family due to smoking-related health problems over the years. It remains the most preventable of health risks. So, I’m grateful fewer and fewer people are smoking.
  • Street dancing – There are two primary categories of these people, at least as far as I can determine while driving by. One group is people who appear to be walking for exercise or to a clear destination. They typically are wearing headphones or earbuds, presumably listening to their favorite music, based on their dance moves. Between dance steps, they move swiftly in one direction. The second group, I suspect may be homeless or near-homeless. Many exhibit traits often associated with the homeless. They seem less intentional on their directions, but also have less abandon with their dance and vocal moves. They appear to be singing from their gut, from memory, without aid of headphones piping the music and lyrics. If they are indeed homeless, it makes me grateful Las Cruces has the Community of Hope and other facilities and people willing and able to help them, if they want, with food, temporary shelter and even a hot shower. With both groups, I am grateful for their souls and their spirit. They are not worried about what others are thinking. They are living loudly in the moment, expressing heartfelt energy and gratitude.

There’s a good chance your Thanksgiving is looking a lot different from last year’s, or any of the years before. Perhaps Zoom or other virtual technology can bring you and loved ones together. Not the same, I know, but be grateful you are here, embrace and live loudly in the moment of this unique Thanksgiving.

May you make the kind of memories you’ll talk about at all the rest of your Thanksgivings.

Richard Coltharp