“It’s a given,” Denzel Washington said in an interview a few years ago. He was talking about racism in America. He calmly said that racist remarks and experiences were simply a given for African Americans in our society.
The idea of recognizing and accepting certain things as “givens,” no matter who you are, is a useful practice. I regularly consult my own list of “givens” as a corrective to taking things for granted. As a middle class American woman who benefits daily from, among other things, white privilege, I have a different list of “givens.”
With that in mind, here are a few “givens” to be grateful for in the New Year:
Abundant cultural offerings. Originally, I was going to review the comedy “Moon Over Buffalo” in this space. The weather and driving conditions changed that plan. I wanted to see Dennis Elkins, chair of the Fort Lewis Drama Department, in the Pagosa Center production. Normally, Elkins, an Equity Actor and Director, is too busy teaching to take the stage. But in January and June he does. Last year he appeared in two Pagosa productions about caustic 20th-century painters. He portrayed Mark Rothko and Pablo Picasso in compelling performances. Now, he’s in Ken Ludwig’s farce. “Moon” plays weekends through Jan. 31, including three Sunday matinees. www.pagosacenter.org.
People who help us. Since I live outside of town, I’m dependent on a number of people just to live in the mountains. The guys who plow my road, shovel my roof, and help me clean my garage are high on my list of gratitudes. They know who they are. I thank them directly, clearly, and pay my bills on time.
My friends. Could any of us survive without friends? Now, every time I hang up the phone or email a friend, I am grateful for this wonder of adult life.
My doctors. Anyone of an age has got to be grateful for the medical profession, and we are extra lucky in this small Western town to have superb services. Again, you know who you are.
My garage. A few winters ago, John Peel, then a key Durango Herald reporter and columnist, said to me one snowy day: “I am so grateful for my garage. My car starts right up, and I can drive directly to work.”
Every time I open my garage door, start the car, back out and drive to town, I thank my lucky stars that I have a garage. And I thank John Peel, one of the wisest men in Durango.
A flush toilet. More than a few winters ago when the late Sally Morrissey, another colleague at The Durango Herald, said the following to me. “Every day I am grateful for a flush toilet.”
At the time, she was about to turn 80 and was still writing her column, “Neighbors.” Years before at 63, Morrissey, a nurse-turned-journalist, widow and mother /grandmother to a large extended family, had joined the Peace Corps. She spent two years in Guatemala, possibly the biggest challenge of her life. On her return, she summed up what she learned by saying what I quoted above.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, art historian and arts journalist.