Hand gestures have a long, diverse and important history. From early humans using them to communicate non-aggression, to nautical and military signaling, to non-verbal forms of communication used today during sporting events where players acknowledge the crowd.
Waving is the most common hand gesture and an important social custom that somewhere along the way it seems, has started to become less practiced.
Do we wave less frequently because we are increasingly walking around, heads down, looking at our phones? Is it because there's less interest in providing a friendly greeting to those who we may not know in our community? Or could our arms just be tired from celebrating the stellar play from the Broncos this season?
Susan Aldred, who lives in Gunbarrel Estates and is originally from Taos, New Mexico, speculates it may be partly associated with people moving into the community from other states who bring a different ethos where waving is a less common social custom. She also thinks that Covid isolation has made a difference. She said that during the height of the pandemic, people were less apt to wave when walking Cottontail trail in Gunbarrel.
Another type of wave is also becoming more infrequent. This form of waving is less about a greeting and more about communicating acknowledgement and thanks. It often occurs between drivers when one lets the other into their lane. It's an easy sign of thanks that can engender goodwill between people who don't know each other, but are both likely wanting to get to their respective destinations safely and with as little anxiety as possible.
Heather Squire, who's from Iowa originally and has lived in the Legend Ridge neighborhood of Niwot for over a decade, says she commonly waves to people who give her the right of way when driving.
You know what happens when you give that wave to someone who lets you into their lane? Sometimes you get a little smile from them, or even a return wave. It's the opportunity for a moment of goodwill, it feels good and it's free.
Perhaps as a New Year's resolution, try waving a bit more around town to people you know, familiar faces, or even complete strangers. They'll likely appreciate the greeting or acknowledgment and maybe, just maybe, smile and wave back.
And along the way, we'll grow our list of reasons why Niwot/Gunbarrel is such a great place to live.