On a quiet Sunday morning, I can hear the trains rattling by.
I don't live close enough that they're audible with each passing (thankfully), but when the world is still outside my window then I can hear it, the distant clatter-and-clack, clatter-and-clack of an electric train rushing over tracks originally built to accommodate steam engines.
Sometimes — very rarely — it really is a steam engine, its strident whistle a jarring incongruity against the hum of twenty first century traffic.
Today it's making me somewhat melancholy — or perhaps I'm noticing it today because I am melancholy? Such is the inevitable cycle of these things.
I find myself thinking, today, of R.
I don't know her well, or indeed at all, really. But I think she's a very gracious and graceful woman.
Somewhat to my own surprise, I can do crises. Give me a car accident, or a family calamity, or even just someone in a panic and needing to be talked down, and that's all in my stride. But strangers, and social situations, they can (and often do) strain me to the very eye-teeth of my abilities. If something happens while I'm out there, on the raggedy edge of my coping skills — well, my defences are already stretched too thin, and I take the hurt deeply.
Those situations that undo me, R. takes in her stride. She faces them with manners that are downright Victorian: she's warm and open and engages fearlessly and competently in any conversation. She dares, and she's bullet-proof … or at least, whatever wounds she takes, she doesn't show. She is grace under pressure.
Everyone has something to teach us, and R. taught me that sometimes, all it takes to be amazing is a very small, simple thing — like caring.