Slowing down and appreciating the ordinary objects that assist us in our clinical work can create a new appreciation of their significance and innate beauty.
At the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March 2020, masks were hard to come by. Masks were impounded from outpatient clinics and re-routed to the hospital. At first the outpatient team had none; eventually by mid-March, we were allotted one surgical mask per week.
An object that never had any meaning to me, the simple surgical mask, suddenly became a cherished object and protector. As I observed my mask at the end of the day, I appreciated its lines and folds and texture. Life changed so dramatically that March: trips were cancelled, and patients, friends and loved ones were ill and dying. An object I’d casually used and tossed suddenly became coveted and full of potential: protection, survival, a future. I saw curves, valleys, and journeys as I sketched my mask. As I added color to the drawing and magnified it, it became a landscape of potential.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.