Rather unusually for someone that’s been on the planet as long as I have, I’m lucky enough to have never spent a single night in hospital. It’s been an experience therefore to have spent the last 3 days at the bedside of a very sick relative in the quite odd Hopitaux du Pays du Mont-Blanc in the town of Sallanches near the French resort of Chamonix. It’s not like I imagined hospitals to be. It’s modern & very clean. It’s quiet & eerily empty. There are no wards, just rooms painted bright yellow with one or two people in them. Every room has a stunning view – either out onto the Big Mountain itself or one of the other minor peaks. Do people recover quicker when they’re in a room with a view? Maybe.
Twice a day a black helicopter lands on the roof bringing in an emergency – either a holidaymaker that’s damaged themselves whilst indulging in one of the many, many extreme sports on offer in this part of the world – or transporting someone from one of the remote villages. Yesterday we watched an elderly gentleman in his neatly buttoned overcoat walk from the helicopter.
I feel as though I’ve slipped into a parallel universe in only three days. My day to day life at Learning Pool seems like a distant dream. I’m either in the hospital feeling helpless or I’m outside reading Haruki Murakami’s surreal “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, drinking coffee out of a machine and wondering why people that are sick enough to be in hospital think it’s a good idea to go outside & smoke, even when that means dragging their drips & tubes with them.
Human life – it’s a beautiful and fragile thing – we should remember that and try to be a bit nicer to each other for the short time we spend on earth.