Shhhhhhhhh. Someone may notice.

Natural Health Magazine published in its April 2002 issue a ranking of “naturally healthy cities.” Our neighbor to the north received a very favorable fourth place, noted on page 57. Here are some of the factors considered:

  • Thirty percent less depression than Miami (which was ranked No. 1 overall).
  • The qi (vital energy) is good.
  • The most acupuncturists per capita, more than any other ranked city.
  • The lowest stress levels among the ranked cities.
  • Fourth number of yoga studios per capita than any other ranked city.
  • Only 160 deaths per 100,000 from heart disease. That’s less than half the most heart-disease-ridden city, New York City.
  • Sunshine 283 days per year.
  • Toxic dumping fourth lowest of the ranked cities.

Imagine that β€” 30 percent less depression than the most naturally healthy city in the U.S.! Vital energy out the ying-yang, induced by an abundance of free sunshine! A yoga lover’s dream come true! Cheap acupuncture! And all this time we’ve been sniggering at Big I City.

Well, snigger no more, all ye sniggerers. Albuquerque just made the big time. The word is out that sunshine correlates strongly and directly with better moods and lower stress.

However, I see flies in this ointment of recognition. First of all, if everyone’s in a good mood and stress-free because of all that sunshine, why then do they need so many acupuncture and yoga clinics? And that stress statistic bothers me somewhat. Obviously, the folks at Natural Health didn’t actually drive around town themselves nor were they driven by anyone resembling a local motorist. Most likely they merely gathered data from available resources without actually visiting at all. I know with absolute certainty that my stress level does not decrease before, during, or for a long time after I’ve spent any amount of time putting my defensive driving skills to the test while trying not to spend my money in Bernalillo County. That’s enough to drive any sane person to the acupuncturist and the yoga clinic!

Also, something about that heart disease statement makes me wonder if maybe the brown cloud actually has some health benefits. I’ll bet the 283 days of sunshine would be higher without the cloud, but what would be the effect on heart disease? Would it rise? Probably not, given the color of the New York City sky 283 days per year.

Nonetheless, expect a marketing frenzy as a result of the article and the ranking. Expect an influx of residents to Bernalillo County β€” as well as, to a lesser degree, the surrounding communities.

Thank God the reviewers didn’t rank Valencia County. Can you imagine how we would have fared? Just take a look at everything we don’t have. We don’t have to drive to Albuquerque to take a yoga class that we can take at our very own academic oasis, UNM-Valencia. We don’t have a lack of qi β€” in fact, we have more qi than we know what to do with. Why, we could export vital energy and moot the issue of building a power plant here β€” we are a power plant!

Also, not only don’t we have a score on the toxic dumping scale, we don’t even have a dump (littering aside)! We don’t have a brown cloud. We don’t have to cross the Pueblo to get acupuncture treatments. And one look at the honor rolls and the articles in the News-Bulletin about all the folks in the county who are forever being caught doing something good, along with all the children who are out there achieving at incredibly high levels, and you will see the best prevention on Earth for people who don’t want depression.

Yes, it’s a good thing we didn’t get reviewed. We would have come out cleanly in first place β€” a terrible fate! More farmland lost. More developed land. More condemned land for various services, e.g., wastewater treatment. More people. More traffic. More crime. Sure, a hospital would be nice, but at what cost?

We just dodged another bullet shot from the gun of more, more, more. In my opinion, when it comes to certain kinds of recognition, less is more.

Snigger, snigger. We have it all.

Shhhhhhhhh. Someone may notice.

(J. Reid Mowrer teaches at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus and is an attorney.)

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J. Reid Mowrer