Most mornings, I cross the four lanes of Venice Avenue to walk the generous loop of a neighborhood I like. Yesterday, I noticed the charm in a stand of palms I’ve marched past many times. I stopped to take a picture and it made me happy. I set the intention to notice beauty as I walked.
I was focusing my iPhone camera on a bright pink blossom when I heard a voice, “There’s another one like that around the corner. Even prettier.” I promised the smiling, elderly gentleman with his precious, little doggy I’d check it out and maneuvered past him.
He called, “You seem to be enjoying your walk.”
I turned back around. “I am.”
“Where are you from?”
“Born and raised right here in Sarasota County. Where are you living?” he asked.
“We have a travel trailer across the street.”
“But where are you living?”
“In the travel trailer. It’s like an RV.”
“I know what an RV is,” he said, smiling. “I wore out four of them. Where are you parked?”
At ninety-something, Bill is the antithesis of a grumpy old man. He’s spry and curious and interesting. His wife was a teacher and he earned his own college degree after they married. They traveled and lived in Tennessee and Arkansas, but they kept their pact to return to Sarasota County to retire. He lost his beloved seven years ago and misses her every, single day. His dog, Katie, “is a real sweetheart.” As we chatted, Bill waived to other walkers and the guy who showed up to mow the lawn we were standing in front of.
I left Bill feeling inspired and full of empathy for his loss. Happy to have met him. The noticing beauty project helped me see my daily path through a new lens, but the most notable beauty was the connection I made with Bill. And for that, I’m especially grateful that I stopped to take that picture.