Riding my bike from work last week, I saw a woman standing by the side of the street, her face a network of wrinkles and her slenderness bordering on frailty. Her dark, Amelia-Earhart-short-and-curly hair was uncovered, and she wore an indigo blue blazer and red lipstick. The vibrancy of these colors contrasted starkly with her wrinkles and general pallor. She wrapped her arms around her trunk in a self-administered hug.
The woman stood in the sunshine wearing sunglasses, stood by the side of the road, opposite the hospital, hugging herself.
I often especially notice people during this stretch of my bike ride because of the hospital. When any of us find ourselves at the hospital, this very fact means we are no longer living our normal lives. The hospital is a place where, if no one else is there to offer us comfort, we might feel compelled to hug ourselves. It is a place where we realize what we could lose, and thereby have the chance to notice its preciousness more deeply.
Perhaps I look more closely as I ride by the hospital because even a visual brush with this quality of presence sharpens my own appreciations. And that is always a good thing.